How to see the 2023 Orionid meteor shower from Halley’s Comet

The annual Orionid meteor shower, known for its bright and fast meteors, is expected to peak on October 22, 2023. These meteors create a celestial spectacle that you should not miss and our guide will prepare you for this astronomical spectacle.

The Orionids, which peak in mid-October each year, are known for producing strikingly bright meteors that flash across the night sky.

About the Orionid meteor shower

Traveling at speeds of over 148,000 miles per hour (66 kilometers per second), these meteors have the potential to develop into fireballs and produce longer bursts of light. after to NASA. They often leave glowing “trains” in their wake that can linger for several seconds to minutes.

The radiation point of this shower, i.e. the place in the sky from which the meteors appear to originate, is in Orion constellation. It’s important to note that while constellation names help sky watchers locate meteor showers, they are not the actual sources of the meteors. In fact, meteors are tiny fragments and particles, typically from comets or asteroids, that burn up when they enter the Earth’s atmosphere.

An Orionid meteor.

An Orionid meteor.
Picture: NASA

The Orionids are debris from Halley’s Comet, a short-period comet that flies past the Sun (and thus also the Earth) every 75 to 79 years. Each time it passes through the inner solar system, Halley’s core sheds between 3 and 10 feet (about 0.9 to 3 meters) of its material. after to EarthSky.

Observing tips for the Orionids in 2023

According to NASA, for the best viewing experience, it’s a good idea to look 45 to 90 degrees away from the spotlight. “From this perspective, they will appear longer and more spectacular,” explains the space agency. “If you look directly at the radiation, you will see that the meteors will be short. This is an effect of perspective called foreshortening.”

The Orionids typically have moderate meteor shower intensity, producing 15 to 20 meteors per hour at their peak when observed from locations with minimal light pollution. after to the American Meteor Society (AMS). However, there have been cases in the past where the number of meteors increased to three times this number (although intense activity is not expected this year).

For optimal viewing results, the AMS recommends that you view the meteor shower in the immediate hours after midnight (it does not begin until after 1:00 a.m.), with the spectacle lasting until dawn. Staying awake that late is often inconvenient, but the Orionids happen to be at their peak on the weekend this year. In 2023, the Orionids are expected to peak at 00:05 UTC on Sunday, October 22nd and at 8:05 p.m. ET on Saturday, October 21st. Overall, the meteor shower lasts from the end of September to the end of November.

The shower is visible from both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres; In the Northern Hemisphere the viewer should look to the southeast, in the Southern Hemisphere to the Northeast. It goes without saying that you should avoid streetlights and bright cities in general if possible. To stay comfortable, you’ll want to bring a lawn chair or blanket, not to mention a sweater (it’s October, after all) and plenty of snacks and drinks.

Insights into Halley’s Comet

Halley’s Comet, officially named 1P/Halley, is one of the most famous and easily recognized comets, appearing in our sky approximately every 76 years. Named after Edmond Halley, who accurately predicted its return in 1758, the comet has been observed and documented for over two millennia.

Halley’s Comet last graced our skies in 1986 and is scheduled to make its next appearance in 2061. However, the annual appearance of the Orionids serves as a friendly reminder of the comet’s enduring presence. And if you miss the Orionids, don’t worry! The Eta Aquarids are a meteor shower that occurs annually and typically peaks in early May. They are also associated with Halley’s Comet.

Whether you’re a seasoned astronomer or a curious observer, the 2023 Orionid meteor shower promises to be a celestial spectacle not to be missed. Blue sky!

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