Orionid meteor shower peaks for viewing this weekend in central Indiana

Cesar Mills
October 20, 2017

The Orionid meteor shower happens annually when the Earth ploughs through dusty debris from Halley's Comet, named after astronomer Edmond Halley, who determined the comet's periodicity and contributed to further knowledge of the solar system.

This is the most famous comet on the astronomical calendar because it's visible to the naked eye and also because it can be seen twice in a human lifetime thanks to its appearance in our skies every 74 to 79 years. It produces some of the brightest meteors all year. Experts say you can also watch the shower on October 21 and October 22.

Although they can not rival the three major yearly meteor showers - the Quadrantids, Perseids and Geminids - the Orionids are known for their consistent intensity and their easy visibility, as they are both bright and appear near the zenith in Taiwan, the museum said. A single observer under dark, clear skies can expect to see about 20 Orionid meteors per hour near the peak.

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What is the best time to view the Orionids meteor shower?

The shower is active throughout October, but Kerss says the best time to see it will be on October 22 between midnight and dawn, when the sky is darkest and the shower will be at its brightest. "Maybe half of the Orionid meteors leave persistent trains - ionized gas trails that last for a few seconds after the meteor itself has gone". Orion is the namesake because the meteors appear to radiate from north of Betelgeuse, one of the constellation's most well-known stars.

Stargazers may have to wait as many as 10 minutes between shooting stars (patience will serve you well this weekend). If you missed it, you'll have to wait until 2061-62 for another chance, because Halley's Comet only comes around these parts once every 76 years. In this case speed is important because fast meteors have a tendency to explode.

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