Orionid meteor shower to peak this weekend - here's what to know

Rodiano Bonacci
Ottobre 22, 2018

The Orionid meteor shower, the most active meteor shower associated with Halley's Comet (which won't return until 2061), reaches peak activity late tonight with up to 20 meteors visibly crossing the sky each hour.

The best time to look for Orionid meteors is 4 a.m. local time to before twilight when Earth encounters the densest part of Halley's Comet's debris stream. That means if you look away from the sky for a moment you might not catch them falling, but you might still be able to see their trail. At certain times of the year, Earth's orbit crosses paths with the debris.

The meteor shower will happen on October 21 and 22 with 2 a.m. being the peak time on both nights. Cooke predicted that in 2018, the peak would be at the smaller end of the scale, echoing the peaks of 2017 and years before. Lie back and watch the skies, but there's no need for binoculars and telescopes, since they're made to see single, stationary objects. "If you find the shape of Orion the Hunter, the meteor shower's radiant (or point of origin) will be near Orion's sword, slightly north of his left shoulder (the star Betelgeuse)".

For much of the Carolinas most meteors will be about 10 degrees above the eastern horizon, according to the In-the-sky.org, with about four meteors per hour beginning around midnight Saturday night. In fact, you probably shouldn't because those meteors will have short trails and be harder to see. If possible, get far away from city lights, which can hinder the show. "But if you head outside and let your eyes adjust, in addition to seeing a handsome gibbous moon you might see a few meteors". Bundle up against the cold if necessary. Staring up at the sky is very tiring for your eyes; so don't forget to take breaks every now and then.

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