If you're up for an observing challenge, the κ-Cygnid (Kappa Cygnid) meteor shower will produce a few bright shooting stars during its peak Thursday (Aug. 18).
Up to three meteors per hour will be visible, according to In-The-Sky.org, and from New York City the radiant (or apparent direction of the shooting stars) will be visible all night near the celestial north pole in the constellation Draco.
The best time to spot shooting stars will be at about 2 a.m., and luckily the moon is in a quarter phase. That means moonlight will be less of a factor in looking for meteors. Unfortunately, there won't be many shooting stars on offer, however.
Meteor showers arise when Earth moves through the densest part of a trail of gas and dust that either a comet or an asteroid left behind. Astronomers have been searching for years for the exact source of this meteor shower, but what causes the shooting stars remains under dispute, according to a 2015 paper in The Astronomical Journal.
To get your best chance of seeing shooting stars, go outside at least 20 minutes before you expect to start observing. Bring a lawn chair or a blanket to stay comfortable. Lie back and look to the top (zenith) of your local sky, and if needed, bring snacks and hydration as you might be outside a while.
Since the κ-Cygnid produces only a few shooting stars every hour, there's no better time to learn your way around the night sky.
Our August 2022 guide will help you find your way to Mars, which is shining nearby the Pleiades star cluster in Taurus. The third quarter-moon is also worth a look, especially if you have binoculars or a telescope available.
If you want more advice on how to photograph the κ-Cygnid meteor shower, check out our how to photograph meteor showers guide and if you need imaging gear, consider our best cameras for astrophotography and best lenses for astrophotography.
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Elizabeth Howell (she/her), Ph.D., is a staff writer in the spaceflight channel since 2022 covering diversity, education and gaming as well. She was contributing writer for Space.com for 10 years before joining full-time. Elizabeth's reporting includes multiple exclusives with the White House and Office of the Vice-President of the United States, an exclusive conversation with aspiring space tourist (and NSYNC bassist) Lance Bass, speaking several times with the International Space Station, witnessing five human spaceflight launches on two continents, flying parabolic, working inside a spacesuit, and participating in a simulated Mars mission. Her latest book, "Why Am I Taller?", is co-written with astronaut Dave Williams. Elizabeth holds a Ph.D. and M.Sc. in Space Studies from the University of North Dakota, a Bachelor of Journalism from Canada's Carleton University and a Bachelor of History from Canada's Athabasca University. Elizabeth is also a post-secondary instructor in communications and science at several institutions since 2015; her experience includes developing and teaching an astronomy course at Canada's Algonquin College (with Indigenous content as well) to more than 1,000 students since 2020. Elizabeth first got interested in space after watching the movie Apollo 13 in 1996, and still wants to be an astronaut someday. Mastodon: https://qoto.org/@howellspace