The Draconid meteor shower is expected to begin its display Saturday, and it may peak between 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time.
The Draconid meteor shower occurs each October as Earth passes through a trail of dust left by the comet 21P/Giacobini-Zinner, which is a member of the Jupiter family of comets, objects that come from the Kuiper Belt, a broad swath of ice-rich orbs beyond Neptune. The comet circles the sun every 6.6 years, and each time it circles, it leaves filaments of space dust behind it.
This year's expectations are for large numbers of meteors. We're predicting as many as 750 meteors per hour, Bill Cooke of NASA's Meteoroid Environment Office said in a statement. The meteors will appear to travel from a point near the head of Draco the Dragon.
Most years we just pass through gaps between filaments, maybe just grazing one or two as we go by, Cooke said.
The unusually intense shower poses an increased risk to satellites, Cooke noted. The biggest hazard to satellites during a meteor shower is electrostatic discharge associated with meteor impacts.
Regarding the International Space Station, he added that it is sufficiently armored to withstand hits from the Draconids.