Crisp and cool October evenings offer great opportunity to be out under the stars. Tonight and tomorrow morning provide an extra incentive, the annual Orionid Meteor Shower.
On October 21st and 22nd, 2014, the shower is expected to be a good one. Historically, the Orionids are one of the better major meteor showers. This one in 2014 has the added benefit of not having a moon glare in the sky to wash out the fainter meteors. The moon phase is a “New Moon”, which means the moon is not visible in the night sky. The only other requirement is clear weather and a good meteor count.
Typically the Orionids can be expected to produce around 25 meteors per hour, but earlier showers have produced upwards to 50 or more meteors per hour, rivaling the famous Perseid shower in August. The Orionids are especially quick, exhibiting short, bright streaks across the sky. The radiant for the shower is in the constellation Orion, which is a winter constellation and will rise to the east after midnight. Although Orionids can be spotted almost anywhere in the sky after dark on the 21st, the maximum count will be from after midnight until dawn on the 22nd as Orion climbs higher in the eastern sky. Another benefit of the Orionids is that they enter the ionosphere nearly head on, and have been known to create a distinct “crackle” or “hiss” as they streak across the sky. The constellation Orion is easy to identify from the bright red star Betelgeuse, the bright white star Rigel and the three diagonal stars comprising Orion’s famous belt. Look for the constellation just north and west of Sirius, the brightest star in sky.
Meteors are commonly associated with remnant debris from comets, as the space dust enters the Earth’s atmosphere. The origin of the Orionids have been qualitatively identified as remnants from Halley’s Comet.
The image below shows the weather conditions predicted for the shower By AccuWeather. All things considered, this could be one of the best meteor showers of the year. Recommend everyone take a lounge chair and a warm blanket out tonight and keep your fingers crossed as you stargaze.