The maximum of the Orionid meteor shower awaits us on the night from Saturday to Sunday. These meteors come from Halley’s Comet and leave bright, fast streaks in the sky.
The Orionid meteor shower is visible from October 2 until the first days of November, but its maximum falls on the night of October 21-22. On average, you can count on observing 20 meteors, or so-called shooting stars, per hour.
The Orionids are considered one of the most beautiful showers of the year. The meteors that make them up are known for their brightness and speed. Shards of space rocks fly through the Earth’s atmosphere at a speed of 66 kilometers per second, sometimes leaving trails of light behind them that last in the sky for up to several minutes. Fast meteors can also sometimes become fireballs, he explains NASA.
The Orionids are also surrounded by some of the brightest stars in the night sky, which provide a spectacular backdrop for these spectacular flares.
Orionids. How to observe a meteor shower
The radiant of the shower, the point from which meteor flashes seem to spread, rises before midnight and is highest in the sky around 2 a.m. It lies close to Betelgeuse in the constellation Orion. For observation, it is worth finding a place away from the city or street lights.
– October nights are already black nights. In June and July, the sun was hiding shallowly below the horizon. Now the nights are much darker, so you can see even the faintest meteors – said Jerzy Rafalski from the Planetarium Space Popularization Center in Toruń.
However, weather conditions may pose an obstacle to observations. The night from Saturday to Sunday will be cloudy, and in many regions of our country there will be rainfall. The Moon may also interfere with viewing the meteor shower. On October 22, it will enter the first quarter phase, which means that the eastern half of its shield will be visible in the sky.
Where did the Orionids come from?
The pieces of space junk that interact with our atmosphere to form the Orionids come from comet 1P/Halley. Each time a body passes through our regions of the solar system, it leaves behind pieces of ice and rock along its orbit that intersects Earth’s. As the debris enters the atmosphere, it becomes a meteor shower – the Orionids in October and the Eta Aquarids in May.
Halley’s Comet takes about 76 years to orbit the Sun once. She was last seen in 1986, which means she won’t visit us again until 2061.
The Orionids will not be the only interesting phenomenon that we will see in the Polish sky in October. There will be a partial lunar eclipse on Saturday, October 28.
PAP, NASA, Time and Date, tvnmeteo.pl
Main photo source: Shutterstock | illustrative photo