After the Draconid meteor shower lit up the sky on October 8, stargazers will be treated to another light show this weekend.
The peak of the Orionid meteor shower is almost here and — if you’re lucky enough to have decent viewing conditions — you might get a glimpse of the shooting stars streaking across the sky on Sunday night.
As the Inquisitr previously reported, the annual Orionid meteor shower usually starts around October 2. The Orionids can be visible in the night sky up until November 7. But the best time to watch them is during their peak, which this year falls on the night of October 21-22, notes Space.
The 2018 Orionid Meteor Shower
In some years, the peak of the Orionids dazzles sky watchers with a fantastic display of up to 80 shining meteors per hour. This year, however, the Orionid meteor shower is expected to be more modest — and will only produce close to 25 meteors per hour, reports The Northern Echo.
Even so, the 2018 Orionid meteor shower could still offer stargazers a night to remember — that is, provided the moon doesn’t interfere with the light show.
Yet, according to NASA meteor expert Bill Cooke, there’s a good chance that “the moon is going to mess with you” and wash out the meteors, leading to poor viewing conditions. As he told Space, the best predictions for the 2018 Orionid meteor shower point to about 15 to 20 meteors per hour.
The Orionids get their name from the Orion constellation — also known as The Hunter. This is the point in the sky from where these shooting stars seem to originate — known as their radiant. But the true source of the Orionid meteor shower is Comet 1P/Halley, famously known as Halley’s comet.
Halley’s comet goes around the sun once every 75 years. As it orbits our biggest star, tiny pieces of the comet break off from its icy body and trail behind it. These specks of celestial debris get caught in our atmosphere each year when Earth crosses paths with the comet’s orbit. They light up into small fireballs as they fall across the sky.
When To See The Peak Of The Orionids
The peak of the Orionids starts a little after midnight — so head to a dark viewing spot as far from city lights as possible and get ready to take in the show.
“Go out around 1:30 a.m. and let your eyes adjust to the dark for about 20 minutes,” advises Space, noting that “binoculars and telescopes won’t improve the view, because they are designed to see more stationary objects in the sky.”
Note that you don’t need to locate Orion in order to watch the meteor shower. In fact, Cooke explained that you shouldn’t be staring at the radiant anyway, “because meteors close to the radiant have short trails and are harder to see — so you want to look away from Orion.”
If the moon spoils your plans to watch the peak of the meteor shower, you can still catch the Orionids up until the end of the month as “the show is also visible between October 15 and 29,” states Space.
What About Halley’s Comet?
While the Orionid shooting stars can be seen every year, Halley’s comet won’t be gracing us with its presence for another 43 years.
“Halley will not enter the inner solar system again until 2061,” said NASA, per the Express.
The last time the comet made an appearance was 32 years ago, in 1986.