This week on Star Watch the Orionid meteor shower peak this weekend.
The shower is active between September 26 to November 22 . The peak of this meteor shower occurs from Saturday night, October 20, into Sunday October 21 just before sunrise. The best time to looks for meteors is between midnight and sunrise.
Fortunately, the moon will be setting in the Tri-Cities just before 11 p.m. and the moon will be at 37% brightness creating a darker sky and better viewing conditions for the meteors to be seen.
In a dark setting away from light pollution, you may see 20-50 meteors per hour if skies are mainly clear. In the right conditions you will be able to see the Orionid meteor shower with your own eyes, so no telescopes are needed to see these meteors.
These meteors are very fast moving and travel about 41 miles per second. They may leave a train, or a glowing streak that lingers a few moments after the meteor is gone. So keep your eyes peeled because they will appear and disappear in the blink of an eye.
The shower gets its name from the constellation it radiates from, Orion the Hunter, which is known for three bright stars in the center of the constellation Orion’s Belt. This constellation can be seen will be low in the southwestern sky this weekend later in the hours before midnight.
The Orionids themselves come from Comet Halley. We are not close to the Halley’s Comet, but every year around this time we pass through its orbit and debris. The last time Comet Halley came close to Earth was in 1986 and the next time it nears our planet in is 2061.