Look up tonight for the Draconid meteor shower

Look up tonight for the Draconid meteor shower

Luckily much of the UK will have a clear sky later tonight (8th October 2020) enabling us to observe with wonder an event which can connect us to a sense of our place in the universe.

The Draconids owe their name to the constellation Draco the Dragon, and are created when the Earth passes through the dust debris left by comet 21P/Giacobini-Zinner. The comet takes about 6.6 years to make a single revolution around the Sun.

Meteors are small chunks of debris left in the wake of certain celestial objects, like asteroids or comets. When the Earth passes through this trail of material, it scoops up a number of these pieces which fall into the atmosphere.

These objects are moving extremely fast (about 50km/s) compared to the relatively still atmosphere. In fact, they fall so fast that the air in front of them can’t get out of the way fast enough, instead getting rapidly squashed and heating up. This causes the surface of the meteor to reach temperatures as high 1600°C, glowing brightly, which is visible as a short-lived streak of light in the sky.

Wrap up warm, maybe take a flask (or hip flask!) and a deck chair facing due north with a good view of the sky, especially the lamp shaped arrangement of stars known as Draco and allow 15-20 minutes for your eyes to adjust, at its peak there will be 10-20 beautiful streaks of light per hour.
Meditate on this wonder of the universe that is bigger than we can possibly imagine and feel a deep sense of gratitude for the life we have on this planet