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Just a few months after a solar eclipse rolled through the United States, making for an incredible sight, another visible astronomical event is on its way. The Orionid meteor shower is expected to be seen in skies across the globe beginning Friday and lasting through Saturday, NASA scientists project.
“The Orionids peak on October 20 — a dark moonless night,” NASA’s Jane Houston said in a statement. “Look near Orion’s club in the hours before dawn and you may see up to 10 to 15 meteors per hour. Use binoculars to look for bright asteroid 7 Iris in the constellation Aries. Newbies to astronomy should be able to spot this magnitude 6.9 asteroid –even from the city.”
So, the best time to catch a glimpse of the meteor shower is between midnight and dawn Friday or Saturday night. A telescope isn’t required to see the meteors moving across the sky.
But where’s the best place to view the meteor shower? Astronomers say it should be visible in most areas across the globe, but that depends on a number of different factors. First, there’s the weather forecast. Of course, the less clouds the better.
AccuWeather is predicting that the best conditions to view the meteor shower will be Friday night, as clear skies “will bring excellent viewing conditions for those across the eastern U.S.” However, clouds and smoke from wildfires could obscure much of the view for some of those living in western and central U.S. A First Quarter moon will also make this year’s meteor shower much easier to see in both the Northern and Southern hemispheres.
While weather is one important factor for getting an uninterrupted view of the meteor shower, the other is the amount of light coming from your area. Light pollution can obscure the meteor shower, so it’s best to go to a rural area where there’s not lights from the city.
For an interactive map showing the best places to view the meteor shower, click here. You’re able to zoom into your area and see the darkest areas — the best places to go to watch. It’s important to note that you should be have patience when trying to view the meteor shower, as star gazing is typically a waiting game.
The source of the Orionid meteor shower is from Halley’s Comet, and it happens every year as Earth moves through debris left behind from the comet.But seeing Halley’s Comet, on the other hand, is quite a rare occurrence. It’s only visible from Earth every 76 years and was last experienced during the 1980s. Its next appearance in the sky is projected in 2061, according to Space.com.
The Orionid meteor shower is one of two meteor showers created from Halley’s Comet every year. There’s also the Eta Aquarids, which appear in May.