The Orionids Meteor Shower Peaks This Week. Here's How to Watch

Pablo Tucker
October 21, 2020

The cycle's last peak was in 2006, followed by relatively low rates of shooting stars during the 2010s.

Halley's Comet won't make another appearance in Earth's skies until 2061, but until then, we can enjoy the annual Orionids meteor shower made by dust from the comet's wake.

Because the Orionids appear to originate in that area of the sky, the show is named after the constellation, which is best known for the trio of stars forming a hunter's belt.

NASA said in a statement: "Fast meteors can also sometimes become fireballs: Look for prolonged explosions of light when viewing the Orionid meteor shower".

The annual Orionid meteor shower will reach its peak Tuesday night into the early hours of Wednesday morning.

Orionid meteors appear every year around this time when Earth travels through an area of space littered with debris.

NASA has noted "there is some evidence that a larger than usual peak may occur sometime between 2020 and 2022".

According to NASA Science, it's considered to be one of the "most handsome showers of the year" with meteors travelling able 66km/s into Earth's atmosphere.

Light from buildings, cars or streetlamps do affect the visibility of the meteor shower, though.

Halley's Comet sparks two meteor showers every year, the Eta Aquarids in early May and the Orionids in mid-October, even though it only passes through the inner solar system once every 75 years.

The moon, in a waxing crescent phase, will set before midnight, providing dark skies for the peak.

This year's rendition of the Orionids will be best seen from the southwestern and south-central portions of the US where mainly clear conditions are in the forecast. So to watch the Orionids, the first step is to find an area without light pollution, away from towns or city lights.

You don't need any special equipment or skills to view a meteor shower.

Where it is clear, onlookers may want to bundle up for the cool October nights, but it will be just a taste of the weather to come down the road.

Other meteor showers this year include the Leonids and Geminds in November and December, respectively. Some suggest bringing a blanket or chair with you, as meteor-watching can be a waiting game.

But, should you be lucky enough to experience a window of favourable weather, the best time to watch the Orionid peak in the United Kingdom is midnight BST.

Other reports by iNewsToday