Another Epic Meteor Shower Peaks This Week, Here's How to See It
You have a good shot at catching a few meteors with this year's Orionids.
Make sure to unravel that rolled-up piece of papyrus of yours and go through your many, many wishes. This weekend, it's time to make some of them, courtesy of your very own Orionid meteor shower, which is just passing by.
The iconic Orionids, which are active between September 26 and November 22, are peaking this weekend between Friday, October 20 and Saturday, October 21, so you might want to step outside and say hey. Especially because, according to Space.com, viewing conditions seem to be pretty ideal this year, as the moon will only be 37% illuminated, causing much less lighting pollution than it could.
The good news is that everybody can catch these meteors, and they'll be visible both in the northern and southern hemispheres. The bad news is that these guys are fast. Let us explain, and give you a little bit of context. The Orionids are famous because they're produced when the Earth passes through the iconic Halley's Comet's icy and dusty debris. The thing is that the trajectory in which the Earth passes through such debris is very "head-on," as Space.com puts it, which makes the meteors pass across the sky really fast (41 miles per second!) from our perspective.
But this doesn't mean you can't catch them. You just have to be wide-eyed, so to speak. While the Orionids do look like they come from the Orion constellation—which is in the southwestern sky for northern hemisphere-based folks and in the northwestern sky for those located in the southern hemisphere—they actually will be visible throughout the sky as a whole, regardless of what hemisphere you're in.
The best-practice rules are always the same, though. Locate yourself in the darkest possible location, and to find the nearest one to you, make sure you research the nearest dark site or a place with very low light pollution.
Once you've found your ideal nook, forget about equipment and binoculars, but do remember to look at your watch. The best time to see the Orionid meteor shower is reportedly between midnight and dawn when the Orion constellation is high up in the sky. When you're at the right place at the right time, make sure you give your eyes enough time to adapt to the dark. To do so, lay down and wait a good 30 minutes before you actually start seeing some shooting stars. Finally, NASA advises stargazers to get comfortable—make sure to bring a blanket or a sleeping bag, and lie flat on your back. Happy stargazing!