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Draconid meteor shower should brighten your Friday happy hour

Most meteor showers require heading outside at ungodly hours, but Draco the dragon will shoot fireballs around the sky earlier in the evening.

A Draconid streaks the Canadian skies.
NASA/UWO Meteor Physics Group

Make your transition from the work week to the weekend special Friday by stepping away from the bar and heading outside to check out the annual Draconid meteor shower, which peaks this year on October 7-8.

Normally, catching the latest crop of shooting stars means staying up way past midnight or getting up before dawn to get the optimal view. But the Draconids are the rare meteor shower best observed between sunset and midnight when the constellation Draco the dragon, which is where the meteors appear to originate from, is highest in the evening sky.

The idea that the meteors are originating from the Draco constellation is a bit of an illusion. The meteor shower is actually caused by the Earth drifting through a cloud of debris left by comet 21P/Giacobini-Zinner. So you don't actually have to locate Draco to see the meteors. Just head outside away from artificial light if you can, let your eyes adjust and look up.

Viewing is going to be most favorable in the Northern Hemisphere after dusk. The Draconids aren't expected to produce a lot of meteors compared with other showers, but in previous years, like 2011, the dragon's fireballs have really heated up, producing hundreds of slow-moving shooting stars per hour. That sort of drama isn't predicted for this year. But there's no guaranteed way to predict how intense a meteor shower will be, so there's always the chance of a good show.

If you know of a great outdoor or rooftop place for happy hour Friday, get there and be sure to look up. If the weather turns out to be rotten, you can always check out the Slooh observatory's live stream of the Draconids, too.