Halley's Comet is source of this week's Orionids meteor shower

Oct 20, 2017, 00:38
Halley's Comet is source of this week's Orionids meteor shower

"The Orionid meteor shower is very reliable, plus the number of shooting stars it produces has been increasing in the past few years", museum researcher Lee Chin (李瑾) said.

A waxing crescent moon lends the celestial stage this week to the Orionid meteor shower - a wash of rock and ice shed from the venerable Halley's Comet.

During the peak, star gazers can expect anywhere up to 80 meteors an hour, though this year Nasa believes that the numbers may not be as spectacular.

The Orionids happen when earth passes through the tail of Haley's comet that's been left behind from previous passes.

Star gazers will be aided this year by the lack of moonlight which should keep the skies clear of any hindering light pollution.

While the Orionids have been visible since the beginning of the month, the shower will peak in the small hours of October 21 and 22. When one of these dust particles plows into the Earth's upper atmosphere at almost 150,000 miles per hour, it burns up in a brief but brilliant flash of light, called a meteor.

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"If you can courageous the cold, make a plan to stay out between midnight and 3am on Sunday morning to give yourself the best chance, and enjoy the thrill of seeing tiny flecks of Halley's Comet disintegrate at hypersonic speeds above your head".

As the comet moves through space, it leaves debris in its wake that strikes Earth's atmosphere most fully around October 20-22, each year.

The most meteors will fall between October 20-22.

Another bonus: Skywatchers across the highly populated eastern USA should have clear skies for viewing the Orionids, according to AccuWeather meteorologist and astronomy blogger Dave Samuhel.

Look to the southeast sky and the constellation Orion - thus the name Orionid - to catch the action. Its absence provides darker skies to enjoy the show. Your best chance to see the shower will be before dawn Saturday morning, preferably away from any other light sources. The closer to dawn you watch, the more meteors you are likely to see.

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