STRANGE lights in the sky may well be visible over Hastings and St Leonards tomorrow night (Saturday) but people who spot them should not be fearful of space invaders or UFOs.
“The explanation is really quite simple: they are Draconid meteors,” said Simon Allen, secretary of the East Sussex Astronomical Society, who is keeping his fingers crossed for a cloudless night.
Earth is passing through dust trails laid down by a comet, 21P/Giacobini-Zinner, and Mr Allen said it could mean quite intense showers of meteors being visible during the event, expected between dusk and the early hours of Sunday morning and with a peak between 6pm and 9pm.
There were spectacular displays in 1933 and 1946 when the Earth’s orbit took it through a similar dust trail, and Mr Allen said: “The meteors are best seen with the naked eye - you don’t need binoculars or telescopes.”
Lesser displays have been seen in other years, most recently 2005. ESAS chairman David Pulley said: “Usually the meteor hourly rate is around 20, but periodically this shower can be very high.
“Calculation suggests that this will be the case tomorrow, though these calculations frequently end as a damp squib. It’s a case of watching and hoping.”
Mr Pulley said that one problem could be a bright, waxing moon, which is only a few days from full. The best place to look is around the Draco constellation. high up in the north west above the star formation familiar to most people - the Plough or Big Dipper.
The East Sussex Astronomical Society meets from 8pm to 10pm on the first Thursday of the month at St Mary’s School, Wrestwood Road, Bexhill, and new members are welcome. Visit www.esas.org.uk or call Andy Lawes on 01424 819450 for further information.