Good news: it’s time to look at some cool stuff in the sky again. Two meteor showers—the Draconids and the Southern Taurids—are going to peak this week while another, the Orionids, will peak later this month. That means there are tons of chances for you and your family to stay up late and see something awesome.
Tonight and tomorrow night are the peak nights for the Draconid meteor shower, an annual occurrence that’s expected to produce about eight shooting stars per hour, with an outside shot of an outburst that brings the number to 100.
Cooke also warned that the gibbous moon, on the cusp of a full moon Sunday, will make this year’s conditions less than perfect even in the most remote, darkest areas.
But if the Draconids end up being less active, the good news is that the Southern Taurids are expected to peak tomorrow and Thursday. They’re the real draw this week, as they’re known for fireballs which, let’s be honest, you and your kids would both be psyched to see.
For the best show, go out at around 3 a.m. after the moon sets, making the sky dark for a few precious hours until the first rays of the sun start to appear.
But wait, there’s more. The Orionids, which normally produce 10-20 meteors per hour—but can hit 50-75 in busy years—will peak on the nights of October 21 and 22.
In addition to finding the darkest conditions possible, Cooke recommends leaving the telescope at home.
“When you observe meteor showers, you want to lie flat on your back and use your eyes. You want to see as much of the sky as possible.”
That’s because it’s impossible to know where exactly in the sky the show caused by comet debris that ignite when they hit the Earth’s upper atmosphere, is going to happen.