Finding a dark place to observe the stars is easy here in El Paso. All anyone needs to do is drive for a few miles to any of the desert landscapes that surround our beautiful city.
On Tuesday, October 9th, it may well be worth the trip out of town with blankets and chairs (or just the hood of your car) to see the upcoming Draconids Meteor shower.
The best way to spot the Draconids is by looking north/northwest around 10pm and finding the Little Dipper. Named because the meteors appear to emanate from the fiery mouth of the constellation Draco (the dragon), the Draconids shower is produced by particles of dust and ice that were left behind by Comet 21P/Giacobini-Zinner as it passes Earth every 6.6 years.
Most years, sky watchers and amateur astronomers can expect only about 5-8 meteors per hour on average. However, this year might prove to be a bit more exciting, as the comet reached perihelion (its closest approach to the sun) just last month. This coupled with the new moon may give viewers a slightly better show than in previous years.
While you’re outside, cast your gaze to the southern part of the sky. Because there will be no moon out, you will be able to see many constellations adorning the darkness. Depending on how late you stay out, you’ll even be able to see Orion rise in the east around 1am.
But don’t forget about all the planets! Jupiter, Saturn, and Mars still shine brightly in the night sky. And don’t stop there, take advantage of the warm evenings this week by checking out the crescent moon and Jupiter on October 11th.
Remember, there’s always something to see if you just keep your eyes to the skies!