Orionid’s annual meteor shower will peak on Tuesday night in the early hours of Wednesday morning.
One of the best meteor showers in the fall will peak in the following nights, giving sky watchers a great opportunity to spot some shooting stars before the long but cool winter nights just around the corner.
Orionid’s annual meteor shower will peak on Tuesday night in the early hours of Wednesday morning, with about 20 meteors per hour in much of the globe. This is an average for a meteor every few minutes.
“Orionids are medium-strength showers that sometimes reach high-strength activity,”
Although there are just under two dozen meteors per hour, there is a chance that this year’s Orionids show will exceed expectations.
“There is some evidence that a larger-than-usual peak could occur sometime between 2020 and 2022,” NASA said.
It is not clear how many meteors per hour this translates to, but between 2006 and 2009, which were exceptional years for the Orionids, observers reported 50-75 meteors per hour, according to the AMS. Despite this chance, onlookers must limit expectations of such an outbreak, as meteor showers are known to be difficult to predict.
Meteor showers occur when the Earth passes through a field of debris left by a comet. These debris are very small, about the size of a grain of sand, but burn intensely when entering the Earth’s atmosphere.
The comet responsible for the annual Orionids is one of the most famous comets: Halley’s Comet.
Halley’s Comet causes two meteor showers each year, the Eta Aquarids in early May and the Orionids in mid-October, although it passes through the inner solar system once every 75 years.
While this meteor shower is caused by Halley’s comet, it is named after Orion, as shooting stars will appear to radiate from a point in the sky right next to the constellation.
Like many meteor showers, the best time to explore the Orionids will be after midnight, as the radiant point rises and rises higher in the sky, leading to dawn.
This year will be especially good for the Orionids, as the crescent will set before the radiant dot rises in the southeastern sky.
When the moon is above the horizon, it emits natural light pollution, which can reduce the total number of shooting stars that are visible to the naked eye.
Light pollution from nearby cities and highways can still be a problem on a moonless night and is the second most destructive factor for observing stars over time.
This year’s transmission of the Orionids will be best seen from the southwestern and southwestern United States, where the forecast is mostly clear. Some residents in the southeastern United States will also have a favorable time for the peak night of the shower.
Clouds will be a concern for people in the Midwest, Ontario, southern Quebec and northern New England because of disturbances in the region. Poor viewing conditions are also likely in parts of the Northwest Pacific and western Canada.
The rest of the continent will have some clouds to deal with, but there may be enough breaks in the clouds to be able to see some meteors on peak night.
Where it’s clear, viewers may want to skimp on the cool October nights, but it will only be a taste of the weather that will come down the road.
The Orionids will be the last moderate meteor shower before the cold winter conditions descend in most of North America, which will become too cold for some starfish to enjoy a night under the stars. You may have to wait until April or May for the next opportunity to watch a meteor shower on a soft night.
After the Orionids, the next meteor shower on the calendar is the Leonids, which peak on the night of November 16-17, followed by the long-awaited Geminids on the second weekend in December.