Orionid Meteor Shower Sunday

By: Jill Gilardi Email
By: Jill Gilardi Email

The annual Orionid meteor shower peaks on Sunday morning during the dark hours before sunrise. Sunrise is at 7:42 a.m. and sky conditions should be great for viewing up to 25 meteors per hour.

Because these meteors streak out of the constellation Orion, astronomers call them Orionids. This meteor shower isn't the strongest, but is said to be one of the most beautiful showers of the year.

The shower is framed by some of the brightest stars and planets in the heavens. NASA says constellations such as Taurus, Gemini and Orion provide a glittering backdrop for the display, but that’s not all. This year, Venus and Jupiter have moved into position with Sirius, the Dog Star, to form a bright triangle in the eastern pre-dawn sky. On the morning of October 21st, blazing pieces of Halley’s Comet will cut straight through the heart of this celestial triad.

To see the show, all you have to do is go outside one to two hours
before sunrise when the sky is dark and the constellation Orion is high overhead. Lie down on a blanket and watch Orionids emerge from a small area near the shoulder of Orion. They will spray across the entire sky.

Orionids from Halley's Comet move fast at 148,000 mph and fast meteors have a tendency to explode, says NASA. Occasionally, Orionid fireballs will leave incandescent streams of debris in their wake that linger for minutes. Such filaments of meteor smoke twisted by upper atmospheric winds into convoluted shapes can be even prettier than the meteors themselves, according to NASA.

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