The Orionid Meteor Shower Will Light Up the Skies This Week

The Orionid meteor shower will bring a show to the skies overhead this week.

The moon spoiled the party for our last shot at the peak of a significant meteor shower. That will not, however, be the case for the Orionid meteor shower.

The Orionids are expected to hit their peak on the mornings of October 20 and 21. It won't remind you of the Fourth of July, but experts say that we will see ten to 20 meteors per hour during the peak, particularly in the predawn hours. Space.com even puts that number as high as 30 meteors per hour.

How to see the Orionid meteor shower

The display, one of two annual showers produced by the debris left behind by Halley’s Comet, won’t contend with a full moon. It will, however, contend with rampant light pollution found all across the country, as any meteor shower does.

The Orionids are at their best after midnight and toward the dawn hours. But you need to get far from the light pollution of cities. That light will obscure your ability to see as many meteors as possible. Get under dark skies, give your eyes time to adjust to the darkness—as much as 30 minutes is recommended—and lean back to enjoy the show.

While you might be able to spot Orionid meteors any morning this week, EarthSky notes that by the morning of October 20, a slimmer moon will hang in the sky. It won't provide much interference and could even make for a beautiful backdrop to your meteor experience.

For any meteor shower, it can help to locate the radiant, which is the point from which the meteors appear to radiate. The constellation Orion is this shower's radiant. For viewers in the US, the constellation and its easily recognizable belt will be found in the southwestern sky. However, you shouldn't look right at the radiant. Those shooting stars will streak across the entire sky. You may even miss meteors if you look right at the radiant because they're moving away from that point. Some of the brightest meteors with longer tails can appear far from that point.

You don't need any special equipment to enjoy a meteor shower, either. A telescope or binoculars will limit the amount of sky you can see. You want to be looking at as much of the sky as possible to increase your chance of seeing meteors. So, get out there, lean back, take in the sky, and enjoy one of fall's best displays. 

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 on Twitter.