What: an annual celestial light show of "shooting stars" or meteors.
When: This year, peak viewing occurs on October
20-21, 2017 beginning around midnight, growing more
spectacular in the early morning hours until dawn.
Where: Orionids originate in the southeastern
sky between the Gemini and Orion constellations.
What to bring: lawn chair, bottled water
or hot cocoa, camera, tripod.
Every year, in an early morning in October, the Orionid meteor shower puts on a spectacular celestial show.
Although visible throughout the month, the Orionids are best seen from October 17 - 25.
In 2017, they are predicted to peak on the evening of October 20, continuing overnight into the early morning hours of October 21 -- producing more than 20 meteors per hour streaking across the night sky.
Unlike in previous years when moonlight interfered with prime viewing, the sky will be completely dark in 2017. That means optimum meteor spotting this year, as the Orionids make their annual passage across the heavens some 60 miles above the earth.
Since the shower's radiant point is close to the celestial equator, the Orionids are truly an international event. That means astronomers (amateur and otherwise) can sit back and enjoy the show in both the northern and southern hemispheres.
The origins of the Orionids
In the night sky, Orionid meteors stream from what appears to be the elbow of Orion the Hunter in the Orion constellation. Yet the Orionids real origins are even more intriguing.
astronomer Edmond Halley, Halley's Comet makes a visit to our inner solar system approximately every 76 years. Each time the
famous comet swings by the sun, bits of debris are sent flying off into space. Although most
are not bigger than a speck of sand they streak by at some 90,000 mph, resulting in the celestial fireworks known as the Orionids.
are the second of two showers that occur annually as a result of dust released by Halley's Comet, the first being
Halley's Comet. Every year in October, remnants from the famous comet zoom by 60 miles above the Earth,
in a celestial fireworks display known as the Orionids (photo courtesy ESA/Max-Planck-Institute.)
How to view Orionids
Today, the best place to observe the Orionid meteor shower (or
any meteor shower for that matter), is somewhere dark, away from
light pollution, and with the moon out of the field of vision.
The less light visible, the more brilliant the meteor shower will
viewable to the naked eye, the annual Orionid meteor show may
be partially obstructed by the moon, clouds or night mist, so
amateur astronomers may want to carry along a pair of binoculars
just in case.
Even on clear nights, some type of viewing aid may come in handy for catching sight of even the faintest
of falling stars, aptly named "telescopic" meteors.
However, most experts advise to just forget the telescope - and simply look up
toward the southeastern sky.
the annual event, a digital camera mounted on a tripod helps to
steady the swiftly moving images. A quick trigger
finger also helps, but even random clicks during the height of
Orionid "prime-time" will also guarantee that you'll
catch something! Be sure to have the camera focused on infinity
and, if your camera permits, leave the shutter open for several
minutes for the most spectacular photographic effects.
More about Orionid meteor showers around the Web:
the Orionids - Historical background, facts and information
with related photos, diagrams, and scheduled peak dates and best
- Wikipedia - A brief description with facts and information
on Orionids origins, and a spectacular photo gallery.
A Primer - Brief but informative overview of common terms
that help identify various sizes and types of meteors.