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Don’t Miss the Orionid Meteor Shower!

Don’t Miss the Orionid Meteor Shower! Image

Photo of the 2012 Orionid meteor shower by Mike Lewinski via Flickr (CC 2.0).

Don’t miss seeing the remnants of Halley’s Comet

Halley’s Comet is only visible from Earth once every 75 years, but residual chunks from its tail generate two annual meteor showers: the Eta Aquarids in May and the Orionids in October.

It won’t be until 2061 that Halley’s comet gets close to Earth again, but in the meantime you can look up next week and see its remnants. The shower will peak next Thursday and Friday (Oct. 20-21) and continue through early November. Here are some things you should know about the Orionid Meteor shower:

What is the Orionid meteor shower?

The Orionid meteor shower is meteors formed from the debris of Halley’s comet. This meteor shower takes place in October and November each year. It’s called Orionids because the meteors seem to emerge or radiate from the shoulder of the constellation Orion the Hunter, one of winter’s most prominent constellations. Although the meteors emerge from a single point, they can appear anytime and anywhere in the night sky.

When can I see the meteor shower?

Meteor showers aren’t just one-night events, but there’s typically a best time to watch. Nobody is sure EXACTLY when this will be, but according to EarthSky.org, the best time to see the Orionids this year will be in the early morning hours, after midnight and before dawn, on Thursday, Oct. 20 or Friday, Oct. 21. This is when it is forecasted that Earth will encounter the densest part of the debris stream, with the most meteors streaking across the sky. This year is a modest meteor shower so at its peak, you’ll be able to see up to 10-20 meteors every hour.

What is the best way to watch the meteor shower

  • The best way to watch is to wake up one or two hours before sunrise, and look up towards the constellation Orion.
  • Find a wide-open viewing area and don’t use a telescope or binoculars. You don’t want to limit the amount of sky you can see at one time. Your eyes will work just fine.
  • If possible, get out of town and travel to a dark place away from artificial lights and light pollution for the best view. Let your eyes adjust to the dark.
  • Prepare to wait: Bring something to sit or lie down on. Stargazing is a waiting game, so get comfortable and be prepared to relax and enjoy the event!

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