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The Orionids meteor shower will peak this week

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One of nature’s most anticipated light shows will culminate this week as space debris and dust trails from the famous Halley’s Comet scatter across the night sky.

The Orionids meteor shower is expected to peak at 2pm ET on Friday, October 21st, but will be best observed earlier in that timeframe, between midnight and dawn. According to EarthSky, if viewed properly, away from any bright lights and light-polluted areas, viewers can expect to see around 10 to 20 meteors per hour during this time.

When the meteor shower reaches its peak, the moon will be approaching a thin crescent shape and no longer bright enough to obscure the meteors’ view. However, NASA Meteoroid Environment Office leader Bill Cooke suggests looking anywhere in the night sky away from the moon to best observe fireballs.

“It takes about 45 minutes for your eyes to adjust to the dark so they can see more precisely and better. “If you stare at your bright phone, at the streetlight, or at the moon, you’ll ruin that night vision,” he said.

NASA recommends going outside at least 30 minutes before viewing meteors to adjust to the night sky.

“Observing meteor showers is something that takes time. You should plan to spend about two hours outside – it’s not a 15-minute adventure,” Cooke added.

The meteor shower officially started on September 26 and will continue until November 22, so skywatchers will have the chance to see the Orionids after the summit.

The Orionids radiate outward from the Orion constellation of Orion – a spot particularly close to Orion’s sword, close to the great red star Betelgeuse – but you don’t need to know the location of that spot to see meteors; they will appear all over the sky.

No special equipment is required to observe meteor showers, and Orionids can be seen from anywhere in the world when the weather permits.

Origins of the orionids

Although the name of the rain comes from the nearest constellation, the meteors themselves are bits of dust left behind by Comet Halley as it orbits the sun, a journey that takes about 76 years.

When Earth’s orbit intersects the comet’s orbital track, we encounter the Orionids. In early May, we see the same particles at a different point in the comet’s orbit, but they go there under the name of the Eta Aquariids meteor shower.

“It happens about once in a person’s life (Comet Halley is visible from Earth); Every 76 years, so everyone gets a chance to see Comet Halley,” Cooke said. “For those who haven’t seen Comet Halley, if you don’t want to wait for its return, at least you can go outside and see the Orionids.”

Halley’s Comet was last here in 1986 and will return in 2061, but the Orionids come every year. Meteorites tend to be bright and fast-moving and often leave permanent traces that can shine in the sky for a few seconds as they pass. According to Cooke, other meteor showers that produce brighter fireballs are the Perseids and Geminids.

Meteor rates nearly tripled between 2006 and 2009, rising from 20 to 40 per hour, sometimes to 70 per hour. Cooke said it was an unexpected behavior caused by Jupiter’s gravity.

“Meteor rains may surprise you,” he added. “This year, the estimates are for the behavior of normal Orionids, but you never know.”

Other space events this year

According to EarthSky’s 2022 meteor shower guide, there are five more meteor showers you can see for the rest of 2022:

• November 5: Southern Taurus

• November 12: Northern Taurus

• November 18: Leonids

• December 14: Gemini

• December 22: Ursids

There are two more full moons for 2022 in The Old Farmer’s Almanac calendar:

• November 8: Beaver bear

• December 7: Cold month

And there will be two more eclipses this year, one solar and one lunar.

The partial solar eclipse on October 25 will be visible to people in Greenland, Iceland, most of Europe, northeastern Africa, and western and central Asia. The total lunar eclipse on November 8 is visible in Asia, Australia, the Pacific, South America, and the western half of North America.