A spectacular celestial show will be lighting up the night sky this weekend. The Orionid meteor shower is expected to peak over the next two nights and with practically cloudless skies anticipated across much of America, eager stargazers could be in for quite a show.
According to Space.com, the annual astronomical event will reach its peak between tonight and the morning of Oct. 22. “This meteor display is spawned by the debris shed by Halley’s Comet, and if you spot one of these meteors, there’s a good chance that what you saw was a fragment left behind in space by this famous comet,” according to Space.com’s meteor shower guide.
Viewers can expect to see dozens of meteors per hour and the best viewing time, according to EarthSky, is from midnight to just before dawn. The meteors “are some of the fastest and brightest among meteor showers” and can sometimes either leave behind bright “trains” in the night sky or become fireballs.
Watch Time-Lapse Video of Orionid Meteor Shower from 2012
To watch the dazzling meteor shower this weekend, NASA recommends getting away from light pollution/city lights and giving your eyes 30 minutes to adjust in the dark. Since there will be little moonlight, meteors will be more visible. “Come prepared with a sleeping bag, blanket or lawn chair. Lie 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, and look up, taking in as much of the sky as possible.” Other viewing tips include:
- Don’t bring telescopes or binoculars. They won’t help, according to Space.com.
- Avoid looking at your cell phone or other light sources. They could “destroy night vision,” says NASA. Instead, use a red light.
- Be patient. You have until dawn to catch a glimpse of the stunning show.
Meteors can be spotted as late as Nov. 7.
The Orionid meteor shower is TONIGHT and TOMORROW. Don't miss it!! pic.twitter.com/kPpDrqAUru
— IFLScience (@IFLScience) October 20, 2017
The final meteor showers of 2017 will take place over the next two months, with Leonids occurring in November and Geminids in December. While the Orionid meteor shower is an annual event, Halley’s Comet will not return to Earth again until 2061.
Will you be watching the Orionid meteor shower this weekend? Sound off in the comments section below!
Photo credit: Brocken Inaglory, Wikimedia Commons