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Climate and Environment

Get Ready To See The Draconid Meteor Shower In The Night Sky

View of a Draconid shooting star and northern light at the Färnebofjärden National Park north of Stockholm, late on Oct. 8, 2011.
View of a Draconid shooting star and northern light at the Färnebofjärden National Park north of Stockholm, late on Oct. 8, 2011.
(P.M. Heden
/
AFP via Getty Images)
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Watch out for the shooting stars coming your way.

LIGHT POLLUTION MAP
  • L.A.'s light pollution can make viewing a meteor shower tough. But fear not! This map can help you find the ideal spot with minimal artificial light.

The annual Draconid meteor shower is expected to peak Saturday evening into Sunday for stargazers in the Americas.

The cosmic fireworks are named after Draco, a constellation that outlines the shape of a dragon.

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Despite the tribute to a powerful beast, Draconid showers tend to be slow for meteors. That makes them harder to produce light and be noticeable to stargazers, according to NASA.

This year, the meteor shower also might be outshined by the upcoming full moon on Sunday afternoon. EarthSky says the best bet is to spot the bright flares around dusk before the moon rises. Under a moonless dark sky, stargazers can possibly see up to 10 Draconid meteors per hour.

If you miss this weekend's night show, there are several more opportunities to see meteor showers this fall and winter. The next meteor shower, called Orionids, is expected to peak Oct. 21.

Here's how to view meteor showers from wherever you're looking up from Earth.

Gather all the details for the specific meteor shower

If you're viewing a meteor shower, you'll want to make sure you know the time of its peak, the radiant point and the phase of the moon, according to EarthSky. Otherwise, you might not get as much from your time outdoors.

The estimate for the meteor shower will always appear in UTC, which means Coordinated Universal Time.

You can convert UTC to your time zone by following the steps from EarthSky here.

The radiant point is not essential to seeing the meteor shower, though it can enhance your viewing. This is the point in the sky where the "shower of meteors seems to proceed," NASA notes.

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A meteor streaks across the sky during the annual Perseid meteor shower in August 2021 in West Virginia.
A meteor streaks across the sky during the annual Perseid meteor shower in August 2021 in West Virginia.
(Bill Ingalls
/
NASA via Getty Images)

EarthSky says meteor showers are visible even before their radiant rises to the sky.

And it says that knowing the shower's number of meteors per hour will also give you a clearer sense of how often they appear.

The phase of the moon also affects visibility — a bright moon can severely diminish how well you can see the shower.

Know where to go

Light pollution — the excess of artificial lights in major cities and other industrialized areas — obstructs the view of meteor showers.

To make the most out of your viewing experience, try finding a darkly lit spot away from city lights. The darker your surroundings, the clearer the meteor shower will be.

Find a comfortable spot

When viewing a meteor shower, you'll want to make sure you're in a comfortable position with well-adjusted eyes.

NASA says in about 30 minutes, your eyes can adapt to the dark, which will make the showers much more visible.

Bring a blanket, lawn chair, sleeping bag, warm clothes (for cooler temperatures at night) — anything that could enhance your viewing experience and keep you warm into the later hours of the night and early morning.

Now, sit back, relax and enjoy. No telescopes or binoculars required.

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  • Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit npr.org.

Updated October 8, 2022 at 6:15 PM PDT
This story updated with details about the Draconid meteor shower.