Orionids Meteor Shower to Peak Oct. 20

The Orionids meteor shower promises to be a show worth watching in Woodstock.

The offspring of Halley's Comet are about to put on quite a show in the sky above Woodstock and Cherokee County.

Earth will pass through a stream of debris from Halley's Comet that started earlier this week, which will give us the benefit of the annual Orionids meteor shower—though you probably won't see much until a bit later.

The shower should be at its peak the night of Saturday, Oct. 20, until just before dawn on Oct. 21. This year, the moon will be setting at approximately midnight, which will keep the sky darkened enough that—barring cloud cover—you should be able to see up to 15 meteors per hour.

NASA says the best time to look is before sunrise on Sunday, Oct. 21. That's when Earth encounters the densest part of Halley's debris stream. Wake up a few hours before dawn, go outside and look up. No telescope is required to see Orionids shooting across the sky.

Where to Watch

Your own backyard works. If you are in a Woodstock or Towne Lake subdivision and can't find a piece of sky overhead that isn't washed out by street lights, consider heading over to the tennis courts – but don't turn on the lights! 

Live NASA Chat

Join the NASA chat on the Orionids, planets and constellations that brighten October skies. NASA astronomer Mitzi Adams will be answering your questions via live Web chat on Saturday, Oct. 20 from 11 p.m. to 3 a.m. EDT.

Too Cloudy, Cold, or You Just Can't Leave the Kids Home Alone?

If it's cloudy where you live, or you don't like the cooler temperatures this late at night – or early in the morning – you can visit the same NASA site for a live video stream of the meteor shower. No, it's not the same thing as being outside, but you'll know what to look for when you do get out there.

Stay Warm

Bundle up more than usual, since you'll be standing or sitting still. The temperatures will be in the low 40s overnight, according to the National Weather Service forecast . If you are walking the dog, that's jacket weather. But if you are not moving, you'd better layer up and put on a sweater or hoodie under that jacket. Wear a hat or pull up that hood on the hoodie, and consider wearing gloves if you're outside for a while. Consider bringing out the chaise lounge and recline so you don't strain your neck looking up for so long.

What makes this shower so cool?

First of all, it's a show of shooting stars.

Also, though, there's no question about where to look for this one. Meteor showers get their names from the constellations in the sky where they can be spotted. And what's easier to spot than Orion the Hunter?

The stars tend to shoot from Orion's club, pierce Taurus the Bull, the Gemini twins, Leo the Lion and finally, Canis Major, home of Sirius, the brightest star we can see—well, aside from the sun.

There's also something else that's special about this show: With the second-fastest entry velocity of all the annual meteor showers, meteors from the Orionids produce yellow and green colors and occasionally produce an odd fireball.

Obviously, though, you'll have more luck catching the shooting stars if you're in a place not polluted by light.

Are you watching the meteor shower this week? Tell us what you see, and share any pictures by adding them to this story.

You might also be interested in reading:

Shooting Stars to Light Up the Sky

Felix Baumgartner Lands Successfully Back on Planet Earth

Perseid Meteor Shower 2012 to Light Up the Sky

VIDEO: Venus Transit 2012 from Super Hi-Def NASA Camera

Kat October 19, 2012 at 09:05 PM
I live outside of tampa florida will I be able to see this???
Kristal Dixon (Editor) October 19, 2012 at 09:09 PM
You should be able to!
Antony Hamilton October 20, 2012 at 12:12 AM
I live in the South West of England UK. I heard about this via Facebook. I'm sorry if I come across as extremely ignorant, but would I be able to see them from where I live?


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