The Orionid meteor showers are on track to present a dazzling array of cosmic fireworks this Tuesday night and Wednesday morning!
Throughout October, observers of the night sky may have noticed an increase in meteors due to the Orionid showers but, October 20th night through to the morning marks the grand finale of the Orionid meteor showers, with the potential peak being in the morning hours of October 21.
This magnificent display comes courtesy of debris in space that trails off of asteroids and/or comets. When this debris enters Earth’s orbit, it burns up in our atmosphere and leaves a stunning path of sparkling light trailing across the sky.
One aspect of the Orionid Meteor shower that is interesting is the relation it has to Halley’s comet. The debris that has been burning up in our atmosphere and creating the cosmic display throughout October is the direct result of a trail that the comet leaves behind as it travels annually through our solar system.
We’re all about to smash through trash from 1986’s Halley’s Comet:
So, what should stargazers expect if they go out trying to catch a glimpse of a few “falling stars?” For one, the night sky should be a pretty ideal canvas to check out the show due to the waxing of the crescent moon lending itself to a dark sky for the meteors to streak across. It is suggestible that observers locate a place with very little ambient light from their surroundings and no obstructions such as trees or other large objects obstructing the sky.
Finally, lay back with the sky in view, and then enjoy the show! Make sure to be paying attention and gazing with a sharp eye because these meteors tear through the atmosphere at around 147,000 miles per hour, which results in them being somewhat tricky to spot. Although, with a bit of luck, it shouldn’t be too hard because the American Meteor Society estimates that each hour a viewer can potentially see upwards of 20 meteors giving everyone a good chance of catching a few. Also, next month there is the opportunity to see another meteor shower, known as the Leonid Meteor shower.
So make sure to get out there and check out one of the most spectacular natural phenomenon’s while it is still ongoing!