Orionid Meteor Shower peaks Tuesday
Posted October 19, 2020 9:48 p.m. EDT
Updated October 20, 2020 10:25 a.m. EDT
The Orionid Meteor Shower is expected to peak Tuesday night and early Wednesday morning.
The shower is produced by ice, dust and other debris ejected by Halley's comet. The shower itself is named for the radiant point, or area of the sky to the upper left of the constellation Orion.
The Orionids generally produce about 10 meteors per hour in reasonably dark areas and up to 20 under the best conditions. Conditions are more favorable this year because the Moon sets around 9 p.m.
Astronomers have been looking to 2020-2022 for increased activity from this shower. There may be something to that.
While visiting friends in rural Virginia Saturday evening, we saw four meteors coming from Orion's direction. Most meteors are expected about tw0 hours before sunrise as Earth turns into the stream of debris left by comet Halley when it last passed through our part of the Solar System.
Meteor viewing tips
- Meteors can appear anywhere in the sky, but locations with a clear view of as much of the sky as possible are best.
- You only need your eyes. Telescopes and binoculars only limit your field of view, and meteors streak by quickly.
- Look to the darkest part of your sky. That may not be in the direction of Orion.
- Be sure to give your eyes at least 15 minutes to adjust to the darkness
- Avoid looking at your phone, that just restarts the 15 minute clock.
- With increasing clouds expected overnight, this year's Orionids will be best viewed in the evening, as soon as the sky darkens.
This yearly trip through comet Halley's leavings will have to do until the real thing next swings by Earth in 2061.