Draconid meteor shower 2021: When and how to see it in Scotland
Seeing a meteor shower is often only for night owls, as you usually have to wake up in the early hours of the morning. This weekend, however, you might be able to spot a meteor shower at a much more sociable hour.
The nights are getting longer as we get further and further into winter, meaning there’s even more time to enjoy the views of the stars above.
On any clear night, there is plenty to see in the night sky, especially if you venture into some of the Dark Sky areas in and around Edinburgh.
However, every now and then, there are some particularly special celestial events to look out for.
In fact, there’s one coming this weekend. Here’s all you need to know about the Draconid meteor shower, including when and how to see it in Scotland.
What is the Draconid meteor shower?
Also known as the Giacobinids, it is an annual meteor shower that occurs every October.
Unlike most meteor showers, the Draconid can be seen at much more sociable times.
You normally have to get up at around 3am to see a meteor shower, but the Draconid can be seen best in the evening.
Meteor showers are caused when Earth passes through a cloud of space debris from a comet.
The Draconid meteor shower is made from the debris of comet 21 P/ Giacobini-Zinner.
The shower’s radiant point is the head of the constellation Draco the Dragon, giving the shower its name.
However, the shower throws hundreds of meteors across the sky every hour, so you don’t need to find the star itself in order to see it.
Back in 2011, more than 600 meteors were seen per hour over Europe.
When can I see the Draconid meteor shower in Scotland?
The Draconid meteor shower is visible from October 7-11 this year, but the peak is Friday, October 8 and Saturday, October 9.
At nightfall and early evening, Draco the Dragon is at its highest point in the sky, making this the best time to see the shower clearly.
How best to see the Draconid meteor shower in Scotland
You won’t need a telescope or other gear in order to see the meteor shower, but you will need to hope for good weather conditions.
In Edinburgh, the evenings on both Friday, October 8 and Saturday, October 9 are forecast to be cloudy.
Ideally, you’d want a clear sky to be able to see the Draconid meteor shower so here’s hoping the clouds clear after sunset.
To give yourself the best chance of seeing the shower, try and get to a place with as little light pollution as possible, with a wide view of the sky.
That means avoiding tall trees and buildings where possible.
In Edinburgh, places like Arthur's Seat, Blackford Hill, and Calton Hill would be ideal.
Once you’ve found your perfect spot, simply look up and you’ll hopefully be able to see the meteor shower all across the night sky.
If you want to find the constellation Draco the Dragon, trace the path of the meteors back to their origin and see if you can spot it.