The annual Orionid meteor shower will reach its peak Tuesday night in the early hours of Wednesday morning.
One of the best autumn meteor showers is set to peak at the coming nights, giving skywatchers a great chance to see some shooting stars before long, but frosty, winter nights. right around the corner.
The annual Orionid meteor shower will reach its peak Tuesday night in the early hours of Wednesday morning, featuring about 20 meteors per hour worldwide. It averages a meteor every few minutes.
“Orionids are a medium strength shower that sometimes reaches high activity strength,” says the American Meteor Society (AMS).
Although just under two dozen meteors per hour is likely, there is a chance that this year’s Orionid show could exceed expectations.
“There is some evidence that a larger-than-usual peak is likely to occur between 2020 and 2022,”; NASA said.
It is not clear how many meteors per hour it translates, but between 2006 and 2009, which was an extraordinary year for Orionids, observers counted 50-75 meteors per hour, according to AMS. Despite this opportunity, viewers should be able to meet expectations for an explosion like this because meteor showers are known for being hard to predict.
Meteor rains occur when the Earth passes through a field of debris left by a comet. These remnants are very small, almost the size of a grain of sand, but burn intensely when entering Earth’s atmosphere.
The comet responsible for the annual Orionids is one of the most popular comets: Halley’s Comet.
Halley’s Comet pours two meteor showers per year, the Eta Aquarids in early May and the Orionids in mid-October, although it only passes through the internal solar system once every 75 years.
While this meteor shower was caused by Halley’s Comet, it was named after Orion because shooting stars appear to be rising from a point in the sky right next to the constellation.
Like many meteor showers, the best time to view the Orionids is after midnight as the shining point rises and rises higher in the sky leading to dawn.
This year will be a particularly good year for Orionids as the crescent moon sets before the shining point in the southeastern sky.
When the moon is above the horizon, it emits natural light pollution that can reduce the overall number of shooting stars visible to the naked eye.
Light pollution from nearby cities and highways can still be an issue on a moonless night and the second most disturbing factor for star gazing after the weather.
This year’s Orionids rendition is best seen from the southwest and south-central parts of the US where the clear conditions are largely in forecasts. Some residents in the southeastern US will also have favorable weather for maximum shower nights.
Clouds will be a concern for people across the Midwest, Ontario, southern Quebec and northern New England as a region tracks chaos. Poor viewing conditions are likely for parts of the Pacific Northwest and throughout western Canada.
The rest of the continent will have some clouds to face, but there may be enough breaks in the clouds to allow some meteors to be seen at the top of the night.
Where this is clear, viewers may want to stock up for the cool October nights, but it will be just a taste of the weather coming down the road.
The Orionids will be the last modest meteor shower before hintry conditions drop in much of North America, making it too cold for some star-studded to enjoy a night under the stars. Fair stars can wait until April or May for the next time watching a meteor shower on a mild night.
After Orionids, the next meteor shower on the calendar is the Leonids, which peaks on the night of November 16th to November 17th, followed by the much-anticipated Geminids on the second weekend of December.