Good news for amateur star watchers and wannabe Slytherins: The annual Draconid meteor shower will be visible tonight when the Earth passes through a stream of dust from the comet 21P/Giacobini-Zinner, letting loose with a shower of meteors that appears to emanate from the constellation of Draco.
The best viewing will be tonight (on the evening of Monday, October 8), particularly for sky watchers in New England and the Canadian Maritime Provinces.
Space.com has a lot of information about the Draconids’ origin story and the poets’ take on the showers (“Poets among us might like to think of these as the ‘Dragon’s Tears’ or as its fiery breath”), but here’s what you need to watch the Draconids tonight: Nothing special!
In fact, you don’t even need to stay up late or wake up early to see them in action, making them the perfect school-night viewing. That’s because unlike most meteor showers (looking at you, Perseids), the Draconids are at their best in the evening, so there’s no need to drag yourself out at 2 a.m. to watch a meteor shower, only to be stymied by clouds.
Tonight, as soon as night falls, head outside with your lawn chair, look toward the northwestern sky, and try to find the constellation Draco. It will be high in the sky when darkness falls, moving lower throughout the night and finally near the horizon by dawn. If you can’t find it, don’t worry: The meteors can appear anywhere.
Be warned, though: Experts at the American Meteor Society said they have concluded that “nothing exceptional will occur” during the Draconid shower, but optimistically noted that “no one is 100% certain,” so if the sky is clear, just go outside, settle in, and watch the sky fall.