Home / Science / How to see the Orionid 2020 meteor shower, active now and starting to heat up

How to see the Orionid 2020 meteor shower, active now and starting to heat up


Halley’s Comet in 1986.


The Draconid meteor shower and an extraordinary show of Mars in the night sky serve as the opening act for the October headliner: the annual Orionid meteor shower is already visible and is expected to peak at the end of this month.

The Orionids are actually just bits of dust and debris left behind by Halley̵

7;s famous comet on its previous travels through the inner solar system. As our planet moves through the comet debris cloud every year around this time, all of that cosmic gravel and dirt slams into our upper atmosphere and burns in a sight we see on the ground as “shooting stars” and even the occasional fireball. .

The Orionids are considered a large meteor shower based on the amount of visible meteors that can be seen racing towards inevitable doom during its active period, which runs roughly from the first week of October to the first week of November.

The show is already running and the American Meteor Society predicts that a handful of meteors per hour could be visible in the next few days, until the peak on October 20 and 21, when the number could increase to 20 per hour. .

The Orionids may embody the old phrase “blink and you may lose it” when they enter our atmosphere at an extremely rapid rate of approximately 147,000 miles per hour (66 kilometers per second). That said, a fair amount of these meteors leave persistent traces that last for a few seconds. Some even fragment and break apart in a more spectacular way.

To attend the show, the advice is the same as for all events for celestial spectators: find a place away from light pollution with a wide view of the night sky. Prepare if necessary, lie down, relax and let your eyes adjust. It is not necessary to focus on any part of the sky, but the Orionids are so named because their tracks appear to come from the same general area of ​​the sky as the constellation of Orion and the shining star Betelgeuse.

The absolute best time to look for Orionids in 2020 is probably in the early morning hours before sunrise on October 21st, but this downpour is known for an extended peak, so you should have a good chance of seeing some meteors if you get even some day before or after that peak date.

The moon will set before the morning rush hour, so that’s another plus this year. Enjoy the show and, as always, share with me on Twitter any awesome meteor shots you might catch @EricCMack.

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