WRAL WeatherCenter Blog

Orionid Meteor Shower peaks Wednesday night

Posted October 20, 2021 6:54 p.m. EDT

Look to the east about 2 hours before sunrise for best views of the Orionid meteor shower

The Orionid meteor shower peaks early Thursday morning. This moderate meteor shower is usually one of the best of the fall, but not this year.

On a good year, 10-15 meteors per hour may be visible from a dark location. Unfortunately moonlight will hide many meteors, but

As the full Hunter's Moon rises tonight, the constellation Orion, and many of the meteors, will still be below the horizon. Meteors will appear to originate from near Orion's arm, near the orange-hued star Betelgeuse.

The best time to look will be a few hours before sunrise, when Orion is near its highest above the horizon, revealing the most meteors. Finding a dark location and giving your eyes at 15-20 minutes to adjust and then staying for a while, will also help you maximize your meteor viewing.  Clear skies overnight should help, but bring a jacket.  Temperatures will continue to fall to the low 50s until sunrise.

Meteor showers are the result of Earth moving through trails of debris left behind by asteroids or comets (most often comets), during a past trip through our part of the solar system.

The Orionids originate from Haley's comet. First recorded by Edmund Halley in 1682 and last seen in 1986 and every 75 1/3 years in between, Halley's Comet is one of the few short period comets visible with the naked eye.  We'll next see it on July 28, 2061.

Upcoming meteor showers

The next few meteor showers also arrive near full Moon. The Leonids peak November 17th into the following morning, along with a 98% full Moon.  The Geminids, one of the most active meteor showers of the year, peak  Decemebr 13th along with a 78% full Moon.

Meteor lovers have the Quadrantids and their January 2nd into the 3rd peak circled on their calendars. That evening's new Moon will make for the best viewing.

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