don’t miss the Orionid meteor shower this weekend

don’t miss the Orionid meteor shower this weekend

The annual Orionid meteor shower, known for its bright and fast meteors, will peak on October 22, 2023, Gizmodo reports.

At speeds in excess of 148,000 miles per hour (66 kilometers per second), these meteors can turn into fireballs, creating sustained bursts of light, according to NASA. They often leave behind glowing “trains” that can last from a few seconds to minutes.

The point of emission of this stream, that is, the place in the sky where the meteors seem to come from, is in the constellation of Orion.

It is important to note that although the names of the constellations help sky watchers to determine the location of meteor showers, they are not the actual sources of meteors. Meteors are actually tiny fragments and particles, usually from comets or asteroids, that burn up when they enter Earth’s atmosphere.

In Orionid’s case, it’s debris from Halley’s Comet, a short-period comet that flies past the Sun (and by extension Earth) every 75-79 years. Every time Halley’s nucleus passes by the inner part of the solar system, it ejects 3 to 10 feet (about 0.9 to 3 meters) of its material, EarthSky reports.

NASA recommends looking at an angle of 45 to 90 degrees from the radiant for the best viewing of the meteor shower.

From this point of view, they will look longer and more impressive. If you look directly at the radiant, you will see that the meteors will be short. This is an effect of perspective called foreshortening“, the space agency explains.

According to the American Meteor Society (AMS), the Orionids are generally moderate in terms of meteor shower intensity, generating 15 to 20 meteors per hour at their peak when observed from locations with minimal lighting. However, there have been cases in the past when the number of meteors has tripled (however, intense activity is not expected this year).

For the best viewing results, the AMS recommends watching the meteor shower just after midnight (they actually start after 1 a.m.) and the spectacle continues until dawn.

The stream is visible from both the northern and southern hemispheres. In the Northern Hemisphere, viewers should face southeast, and in the Southern Hemisphere, viewers should face northeast.

Halley’s Comet, officially designated as 1P/Halley, is one of the most famous and easily recognizable comets that appears in our sky about once every 76 years. The comet, named after Edmond Halley, who accurately predicted its return in 1758, has been observed and documented for more than 2 millennia.

Halley’s comet last graced our sky in 1986, and its next appearance is scheduled for 2061. However, the Orionids’ annual appearance serves as a friendly reminder of the comet’s continued presence, and the Orionids meteor shower in 2023 promises a celestial spectacle not to be missed. Clear sky!

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