Did you catch the Orionid meteor shower during its peak last night? If not, social space media has you covered — and more sky fireballs are still to come this evening.
The Orionid meteor shower, like any sky show, is affected in many ways by locality. If you’ve got cloud cover or the shower peaks in your area at an inconvenient time, you may not have a shot at watching the astronomical event.
“ABC15 Meteorologist Laura Thomas says the meteor shower will peak between 2 a.m. and 6 a.m. in Arizona… Thomas says you may see from 20 to 25 meteors per hour… But, she also says the bright moon could affect viewing.”
Last night (October 20, 2013) was the first of two in which the Orionid meteor shower would be visible in night skies — and tonight, if you missed it, you can still catch the stunning display of green and orange lights… and even the occasional fireball.
The Los Angeles Times explains why the Orionid meteor shower creates such unique night-sky sights, saying a rapid atmosphere trajectory fires the bits of space debris up like Christmas lights in the night sky for eager stargazers:
“Orionids are known for their speed. They travel about 148,000 mph into Earth’s atmosphere, according to a NASA report. Because they move so fast, they can leave glowing “trains” and are more likely than some other meteors to become fireballs — meteors that glow at least as brightly as Jupiter or Venus in the night sky.”
Anthony Cook is the main dude at the telescope program at Griffith Observatory, and he explains that this year’s Orionid meteor shower is going to be slightly less visible, competing with the full moon.
(Watch the Orionid livestream below.)
“With city lights and the moonlight, you might be lucky to see two an hour… But if they are bright, it will be like free fireworks.”
But Cook also says it’s worth getting out and gazing upwards right now anyway, adding that “even in the suburban light bubble, the sky is really pretty at dawn right now.”
Planning on trying for night two of the Orionid meteor shower? Experts say your best shot will come from finding a spot with very low light pollution — such as a dark area with no parking lots or city lights nearby — and bring a hoodie, for crying out loud. It’s October.