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The Incredible Orionid Meteor Shower Will Be Visible Over the US Tonight

News Astronomy
by Eben Diskin Oct 21, 2019

Get ready, stargazers. On October 21 and 22, the Orionid meteor shower will reach its peak, and you won’t want to miss it.

The Orionid shower occurs when Earth passes through the remnants of Halley’s comet, called meteorites, which burn up in Earth’s atmosphere and leave streaks of light across the sky. Because the meteor shower occurs around the same time each year (mid-October), it’s pretty easy to predict and watch.

For the best chance of seeing the shower, go outside between 10:00 PM and 12:00 AM, as the moon’s light after midnight will make seeing the meteors a bit more difficult. Over 15 meteors will be visible each hour, but the shower’s peak is projected to be around 11:30 PM.

The Orionids got their name because they seem to radiate from the Orion constellation, which is easily recognized by its three stars arranged in a line. While the Orionid meteor shower is relatively small — about 15 meteors per hour in a moonless sky — it’s known to be one of the brightest, most impressive celestial phenomenons. It’s also one of the easiest to spot.

That said, for the best viewings, NASA recommends that you observe them during the hours after midnight, in an area with little light pollution, while lying flat on your back with “your feet facing southeast if you are in the Northern Hemisphere or northeast if you are in the Southern Hemisphere.” It takes about 30 minutes for your eyes to adjust to the dark, so be patient and you’ll be rewarded with a beautiful shower.

A version of this article was previously published on October 2, 2018 and was updated on October 21, 2019.

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