It’s October and that’s when the Orionid meteor shower lights up the night sky with ‘shooting stars’ and fireworks displays every year.
The Orionid meteor shower happens every year in October as Earth passes through fragments of debris left in the wake of Halley’s Comet, which, as they enter our atmosphere, burn out and create fiery and colorful streaks in the sky.
The Orionid meteor shower usually occurs between October 2 and November 7 and will be at its peak on October 21 and 22. With a dark, moonless sky, you should be able to see up to 10 to 20 per hour.
These meteors travel extremely fast, entering our atmosphere at about 66km (41 miles) per second. Even when they are faint, you might spot their glowing trains (ionized gas trails) that last a few seconds after the meteor itself has gone.
If you’re lucky, you might also see exceptionally bright meteors breaking up in to fragments or even become fireballs creating explosions of light similar to fireworks.
How to prepare watch the Orionid meteor shower.
The Orionids will be visible in both the Northern and Southern hemispheres after midnight and before dawn. Best viewed away from the glow of city lights, so dress warmly and go prepared with a blanket or sleeping bag to lie on. Using a telescope or binoculars will not be helpful when watching for meteors.
Lie on your back and, if you are in the Northern Hemisphere have your feet facing southeast and northeast, if you are in the Southern Hemisphere. At this point, switch off all lights, including smartphones, to allow your eyes to adjust to the dark. Relax, look up at the sky and take in as much as possible. The show lasts till dawn, enjoy!
Meteor showers are named after the region of the sky that they appear to come from (known as the radiant). The radiant for the Orionids is the constellation of Orion.
This does not mean you need to look at Orion to view the showers as they will be visible throughout the sky and best viewed from 45 to 90 degrees away from the radiant.
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