2012 Orionid Meteor Shower Peaks This Weekend

by Nancy Atkinson on October 18, 2012

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A composite image of every meteor captured in a viewing session for the 2011 Orionid Meteor shower at Middle Falls, near Mount Shasta in California. Credit: Brad Goldpaint/Goldpaint Photography. Used by permission.

The Earth will soon be traveling through the stream of debris left behind by Halley’s Comet, providing the annual sky show called the Orionid Meteor Shower. This usually reliable meteor shower is expected to peak this coming weekend, October 20-21, 2012, and should produce about 25 meteors per hour, according to the McDonald Observatory at The University of Texas in Austin.

How can you see the show?

Northern hemisphere sky map of the Orionid meteor shower. Credit: StarDate

The meteors for the Orionid shower meteors appear to fall from above the star Betelgeuse, the bright orange star marking the shoulder of the constellation Orion, so if you live in the northern hemisphere look towards the southeast, and in the southern hemisphere look towards the northeast during the best viewing times. The best viewing times are usually about midnight to 2 am, or in the hours just before dawn in your area. The quarter Moon will have set about midnight, so it won’t be a hindrance.

As always, for the best view get away from city lights. If your backyard is lit by too many streetlights, look to go to state or city parks or other safe, dark sites. Lie on a blanket or reclining chair to get a full-sky view. If you can see all of the stars in the Little Dipper, you have good dark-adapted vision, say the folks at StarDate, a bi-monthly publication put out by the McDonald Observatory.

Note: the lead image is called ‘Nighted Vail’ by Brad Goldpaint. It is a composite consisting of every meteor captured during the night and includes the Milky Way appearing to ‘crash’ into the illuminated falls. The image was Grand Prize Winner of Outdoor Photographer Magazine’s 3rd Annual Great Outdoors Photography Contest and published in their July 2012 issue.

Source: StarDate

About 

Nancy Atkinson is Universe Today's Senior Editor. She also is the host of the NASA Lunar Science Institute podcast and works with Astronomy Cast. Nancy is also a NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador.

Aqua4U October 19, 2012 at 4:34 PM

If the weather co-operates I’ll definitely be going up into the local mountains this W/E for some astronomy and meteor viewing!

By the way.. spaceweather.com has a tid bit on that bright bolide that broke up and created a sonic boom, offshore of San Francisco. Best guess is that there MIGHT be some chunks of it laying around somewhere in the North Bay… I’ll keep my eyes open, that’s fur shore! I’ve always wanted to find my own personal meteorite! What would be WAY cool would be to find a meteorite with fossils embedded! LOL~ SHOCK the monkey!

zkank October 21, 2012 at 7:04 AM

I was in the far north Ontario, Canada, at 12:30 AM 18 October (this past Thursday) and I was seeing one every five or six minutes for ~thirty minutes, then it slowed to one every ten-fifteen.
It might be an active one this year, more than predicted!

Simon Fisher October 21, 2012 at 10:17 AM

stood in my back garden with my wife and daughter at 1am and saw about 5 or 6 of them

Bill October 21, 2012 at 10:34 AM

It was cloudy in Ohio. Could not see any. Will wait for the next shower.

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