NASA describes the Orionids as ‘one of the most beautiful meteor showers of the year’, so if you are passionate about astronomy, you should not miss tonight’s appointment.
The Orionids occur each fall when Earth passes through a stream of debris left behind by Halley’s Comet, filling the sky with “prolonged bursts of light,” NASA explains.
This year, the annual shower will peak on the night of October 21-22, between midnight and sunrise (Friday night through Saturday morning) where we will have the chance to see up to 20 meteors per hour, traveling at a speed of about 66 kilometers per second.
“Orionid meteors are known for their brightness and speed. These meteors are fast: they travel at about 66 km/s towards the Earth’s atmosphere” , says NASA.
How to find this shower of stars in the sky?
Very easy. First of all, you must find a place away from city lights , from light pollution. The darker the better. You don’t need a telescope to watch a meteor shower: meteors can be seen with the naked eye, but you will need your eyes to acclimate to seeing in the dark. You will need to wait about 20 minutes to see clearly in the dark night and easily spot the Meteor Shower meteors.
And where do I look? The radiant, the point from which all meteors seem to start, is in the constellation Orion, hence the name ‘Orionids’. No matter which hemisphere you are on Earth, this meteor shower can be seen in the northern and southern hemispheres in the hours after midnight.
Halley’s Comet, responsible for the Orionids , approaches the inner solar system every 75 years or so. It was last visible to the naked eye in 1986 and will not appear again until the summer of 2061.
Craving for more? We still have one of the most impressive meteor showers of the year: the Geminids, considered the best meteor shower of the year along with the summer Perseids. The Geminids will peak on December 13-14, and more than 100 meteors per hour are expected this year.