The annual Orionid meteor showers occur from October 17th to October 25th and reach their peak on the Wednesday October 21st and Thursday October 22nd. Rates of 20 to 25 shooting stars an hour are expected with some estimates as high as 60 shooting stars per hour visible in the northeastern skies each hour until dawn. The crescent moon makes viewing more convenient as it sheds little light keeping the skies dark when shooting stars are most visible. Viewing is expected to be best just before dawn.
These fast moving shooting stars may appear either yellow or green and may produce fireballs creating a dramatic display of color in the night sky. If clear skies grace your area tonight, you will not want to miss this rapid-fire display of meteors as they flash across the sky.
What Causes Meteor Showers?
Comets shed ice and dusty debris as they orbit the sun. When the earth travels through the path of comet debris as they orbit the sun, we see a meteor shower. These falling stars appear in the night sky coming from the direction of the stream of comets.
Meteor showers get their name from the constellation where they originate. The orionid meteor shower appears in the constellation of Orion.
Are meteors and shooting stars the same thing?
People often call meteors shooting stars or falling stars. These bright flashes of light streak across the sky at thousands of miles an hour. The falling debris from comets ignites from friction as it enters the Earth’s atmosphere some 30 to 80 miles above the surface. Although most meteors burn out long before reaching the earth, those that survive and hit the earth are called meteorites.
When meteors shoot across the sky, they are so bright that people often mistake them for a star falling to earth.
What is a fireball?
Scientists define a fireball as a bright meteor that is about the same magnitude as the planet Venus in the night sky. The ball may appear round and brightly lit with a long trail of light streaking behind. Fireballs are caused when a debris from the comet reach the earths atmosphere. This debris can range from a few inches to a few feet in size, whereas, most falling stars are simply dust particles. Occasionally these fireballs do not burn completely and fall to earth a meteorites, but do not worry, they do not cause damage and are no longer hot when they reach the earth.
Viewing meteors and shooting stars
Find a dark location away from city lights, oncoming car lights or any other source of light. The darker it is the better you will be able to see falling stars.
If you can see the stars in constellations like the Big Dipper, the area is dark enough to observe the meteor shower.
Allow your eyes to grow accustomed to the lack of light. They will adjust in a few minutes. Sit quietly and enjoy the beauty of the night sky as they adjust.
Keep your eyes focused on the night sky and enjoy the display of meteors as they stream through the night sky. Don’t forget to make a wish!
2009 Meteor Showers and Viewing Tips. Star Date Online.
Meteor shower tonight! Orionid meteor shower begins at 1 am. The Christian Science Monitor.
Orionid Meteor Shower Tonight: Halley’s Comet Debris Only Kent. Breaking world News. Orionid meteor shower begins at 1 am.The Christian Science Monitor. .Only Kent. Breaking world News.