Sky watchers will be treated to an extraordinary light show this week, as the Earth’s orbit around the sun crosses through the Orionids meteor shower. The Orionids are an annual meteor shower named after the constellation Orion, which sits in the area of the sky where the shower appears. The shower’s peak occurs around October 21 each year.
The meteors seen during the shower are created by the dusty trail Halley’s Comet leaves behind as it orbits the sun. The particles from this trail burn up in our atmosphere, becoming meteors.
The Orionids shower will be visible from October 18th-24th, with the highest period of activity on the 21st. The meteors can be seen with the naked eye. The best time to observe any meteor shower is during the early morning hours, between 2:00 and 5:00 a.m., but meteors will be visible any time after dusk, with a sharp upturn in activity around 11 p.m. Generally, observers can expect to see anywhere from as few as 10 to more than 30 meteors per hour.
To see the Orionids, look high in the eastern part of the sky, near the tip of Orion’s club.