Orionid Meteor Shower Peaks This Weekend: Here's What To Expect


Stargazers and astronomy enthusiasts are in for a treat this weekend as the Orionid Meteor Shower is going to peak and light up the skies between Oct. 20 and 22.

What Are The Orionid Meteor Showers?

The Orionids originate from the debris left by Halley's Comet, a periodic comet, and is considered among the brightest and fastest among meteor showers. It is among the best astronomical sights of the night skies in 2017. The comet itself returns to the vicinity of Earth about every 75 years. This makes it possible to see Halley's Comet twice in a lifetime.

"You can see pieces of Halley's Comet during the Eta Aquarids [in May] and the Orionid meteor shower [in October and November]," NASA meteor expert Bill Cooke said.

The Orionids gets its name from the direction in which it appears to radiate, which is close to the constellation Orion.

How To Watch The Orionids

The Orionid Meteor Shower is visible from any part on the planet and can be spotted anywhere across the sky. This year the shower will peak, i.e. it will brightest and most visible, from Saturday, Oct. 21 to the early hours of Sunday, Oct. 22. According to Sean Brittain, Physics and Astronomy professor at Clemson University, skygazers will reportedly be able to observe up to 20 meteors streaking the sky every hour.

However, it should be noted that light pollution can hinder the views of the Orionids. Therefore, to get the best view one should get far away from city lights. One of the best times to catch the meteor shower is around 1:30 a.m., once the eyes get used to the darkness — the Orionids will be easier to spot. Try to locate the Orion, and then look beyond the constellation. This is because the meteors near to their point of origin will have smaller trails and cannot be seen.

Incidentally, the best way to spot Orion is to locate the three bright stars close together in a nearly-straight line, which represents Orion's belt. The two beaming stars to the north represent Orion's shoulders and the two to the south are his feet.

To maximise the chances of seeing the Orionids in all its full glory, spectators should ensure that their back is to the Moon so that its luminance doesn't play spoilsport in watching the meteor shower. Avid watchers should remember that telescopes and binoculars may not improve the prospect of watching the meteor shower as these gadgets are more appropriate for viewing more stationary objects in the sky.

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