Don’t Miss October's Beautiful Meteors. Here's How to See Them

If you're digging into some stargazing this month, you might want to take note of when this month's meteor showers hit their peak.

Among the celestial delights you'll find in the night sky this month, you'll find a couple of meteor showers hitting their peak.

Before the clock runs out on Halloween, you'll be able to see the peak of the long-running Southern Taurid meteor shower and the Orionid meteor shower. It's not a stand-out year for either display, but that doesn't mean you can't spot some gorgeous shooting stars and enjoy the night sky before the weather makes stargazing a chore.

Here's a look at how you can see meteors streak above you this month.

The Orionid Meteor Shower

The Orionids will peak the night of October 20 into the morning of October 21. This is the more impressive of the two displays in most years. The shower might have produced up to 20 meteors per hour under optimal conditions. Unfortunately, we aren't getting optimal conditions in 2021. Produced by the debris left behind by Halley's Comet, this meteor shower will be marred by the light of the moon, which can wash out some of the fainter meteors. 

"You've got a full moon that's going to completely wash them out because, like the Eta Aquarids, they're faint," Bill Cooke of NASA's Meteoroid Environment Office tells Thrillist. If you do go hunting for the meteors that break through the moon's light, you should do it late at night. It's best to look after midnight when the most meteors are visible in almost all meteor showers. (The early-October Draconids are a rare exception.)

The Southern Taurid Meteor Shower

This is the first of the two long-running Taurid meteor showers and the first of the two we're discussing here. The Southern Taurids will peak the night of October 10 into the morning of October 11, Cooke tells Thrillist. 

Both of the Taurid showers last for weeks but tend to produce just a handful of meteors an hour. At its peak this year, you can expect to find around three to five meteors each hour. Like the Orionids, it's best to go out after midnight if you're looking to maximize your chances of seeing lights streak across the sky's dome. Fortunately, the Southern Taurids produce bright meteors, and you might catch them any time from September 10 to November 20. Though, the night of the peak is your best bet. 

Tips for Watching a Meteor Shower

To get the best view of a meteor shower, you need to get yourself out under dark skies. That means you need to get far from the light pollution of cities, which can extend for a long way outside the city limits. A truly dark sky will give you the best chance of seeing as many meteors as possible. This light pollution map can help you track down the darkest skies in your area.

Also, you should plan on being outside for a little while. It can take quite a while for your eyes to fully adjust to the darkness. If you're going to take the time to go out, you should avoid using lights or staring at your phone, which can reset your night vision. The exception is red lights. If you have a red light headlamp or flashlight, those are great to use when heading out stargazing. 

You can look anywhere in the sky to find meteors. Though, it is advisable to lean back so your field of vision envelops as much of the sky as possible. The meteors can streak across any point in the sky, but they will appear to be moving away from the shower's radiant. For the Orionids, that's the bright star Betelgeuse in the constellation Orion. For the Southern Taurids, that's the constellation Taurus the Bull. But you don't have to stare at that point, because they'll be streaking away from there.

There's a lot to see in the night sky this month, with great views of Jupiter, Saturn, and Venus early in the evening and Mercury making a brief appearance in the morning. There's a lot to see up in the sky, and if you're lucky, you'll catch some meteors while you're out hunting for shooting stars. 

Ready to go stargazing?

Here are all the best stargazing events that you can get out and see this month or you could stay in a stream the northern lights from home. If you're just getting started, check out our guide to astronomy for beginners or easy stargazing road trips from big US cities

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Dustin Nelson is a Senior Staff Writer at Thrillist. Follow Dustin Nelson on Twitter.