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Orionid Meteor Shower to Appear Thursday Night - Friday Morning

One of fall's top astronomical spectacles will appear in the night sky this week: the peak of the Orionid meteor shower early Friday morning. The Orionids are active each year from about Oct. 2 to Nov. 7. This meteor shower is known for its brightness and speed – each meteor can streak at speeds reaching 148,000 mph. Under a dark sky with no moon, the Orionids should produce a maximum of about 10 to 20 meteors an hour, according to EarthSky.org. They occasionally leave persistent trains. The Orionids also sometimes produce bright fireballs, EarthSky.org reports.


The Orionids are actually related to Halley's comet. As Halley's comet moves through space, it leaves debris in its wake that strikes Earth’s atmosphere most fully around Oct. 20-22, each year. Although the comet itself is nowhere near Earth, we're now intersecting the comet’s orbit. The actual comet can be seen only every 75 years or so (the next sighting is in 2062) but this meteor shower is viewable every year around this time.


To see the meteors, look to the east and southeast sky late Thursday night and early on Friday morning (around 10 PM Thursday and the peak of the shower around 3 AM). Find a place away from lights so your eyes can adapt to the darkness. Give your eyes 30-45 minutes to adapt to the dark and take in as much of the sky as possible by lying down flat on your back, Space.com says. Meteors can appear anywhere in the sky, and the more sky you see, the better your chance is to spot a shower.




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