Peoria, Ill. (WMBD) – Earth is currently traveling through debris left behind from Haley’s Comet which comes into the inner solar system about once every 76 years. As the comet moves closer to the sun, the heat loosens up the ice, dust and gas leaving a trail of particles that Earth will move through twice a year. These passes bring us two meteor showers, the Eta Aquariids in April & May and Orionids in October and November.
The Orionids take place between October 2nd and November 7th of each year and peak in mid-October. This year the Orionids are expected to peak in the pre-dawn hours of October 21st. The meteors will be visible in any direction but will appear to come from the constellation Orion the Hunter in the southeast sky.
Orionid meteors are known to be very fast meteors that sink into Earth’s atmosphere at 148,000 mph, are often very bright, and can break up into smaller fragments. The Orionids are not known for producing very rich displays with hundreds of meteors per hour, but often produce an average of 10-20 meteors per hour under ideal viewing conditions. Just enough to make spending a chilly morning looking up at the sky.
If you’d like to view the Orionid Meteor Shower the best time to view them would be between midnight and dawn on the morning of the 21st and in an area with low light pollution from nearby cities and towns. Unfortunately the moon is going to be just past full and will flood the night sky with light. The weather is also expected to be less than perfect with cloud cover likely impacting our ability to view the meteor shower in the early morning hours of the 21st.
While the meteor shower peaks this week the Orionids will remain visible through the first week of November, so keep those eyes to the skies!