This Sunday morning, it may be possible to see the Orionid meteor shower, one of the brightest and fastest on the astronomical calendar.
“The Orionid meteor shower (which takes its names from the constellation Orion) will appear from October 2 to November 7 but will be the most prolific on October 21,” says Melissa Hulbert, astronomy programs coordinator at the Sydney Observatory.
“Its [peak] could be within a day either side of this date and is most visible between midnight and a few hours before dawn.”
The new moon (and therefore a lack of moonlight to contend with) makes this date the best predicted for viewing. There’s no particular direction to look in so it’s best to find a wide-open area.
“Away from city lights is ideally where you want to be to see more meteors. Those in the city are most likely to only see the brighter meteors, not the fainter ones,” says Hulbert.
The particles that form the meteor shower come from Comet 1P/Halley (better known as Halley’s Comet), which swings near the Earth every 75–76 years as it makes its way around the sun. This collision of debris occurs twice yearly (during the Eta Aquarids in May and the forthcoming Orionid meteor show in October).
For those with knowledge of astronomy, the easiest way to find the meteors is near Orion’s Sword (slightly north of his left shoulder).
“This year it’s predicted to be at the lower end of the scale, around 20–30 meteors per hour,” says Hulbert. In some years, upwards of 80 per hour have been visible.
Orionid meteors have the potential to be visible anywhere on Earth, so it’s worth taking a look. Meteors should be visible after midnight and you can expect to see a meteor every couple of minutes on the best nights.
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