A Meteor Shower Made by Halley’s Comet Peaks Tonight. Here’s How to See It.

Orionid Meteor shower 2019
Yuri Smityuk\TASS via Getty Images

If you missed the first two meteor showers in October, fear not, the best is yet to come. The Orionid meteor shower, one of the most reliable annual showers, will peak the night of Monday, October 21.

Next to the Geminids and Perseids (one of which will hit in December), the Orionids are one of the best meteor showers of the year. It is consistently a show worth marking on the calendar. The shower produced by Halley's Comet usually lasts from about October 16 through October 26. It produces around 20 meteors per hour, but Bill Cooke of the NASA Meteoroid Environment Office tells Thrillist that we'll see fewer than that this year.

Unfortunately, this week's display will be competing with the light of the moon, which will be just past last quarter. More importantly, it will still be in the sky after midnight when the shower is at its best.

How to See the Orionid Meteor Shower

For the Orionids, the best time to go out is during the pre-dawn hours. However, because of the moon, Space.com recommends a 90-minute window from 11pm to 12:30am local time the night of October 21 into October 22. That's roughly the time between the rise of the shower's radiant (more on that in a moment) and moonrise. If you can't make that exact window work, anytime from midnight until dawn local time is going to be better than going out early in the night. 

You'll need to get to a dark place to catch the display. Especially with interference from the moon, you won't be able to see much, if anything, watching from a city. Once you're in a rural area, you'll want to lay back in the grass so you can see as much of the sky as you can. With a wider view, you're more likely to see as many meteors as possible.

It's also helpful to find the shower's radiant, or the point from which the meteors appear to emanate. The radiant for the Orionids is just north of the constellation Orion's brightest star, Betelgeuse. An app like the free Sky View Lite is an easy way to find it if you aren't sure where it's located.

The next notable meteor shower will be the mid-November Leonids. Then the Geminids will arrive in mid-December, offering 30-40 meteors an hour. It's a more exciting show than the Orionids, but the potential for garbage weather makes it kind of a toss-up. This might be the last meteor shower of the year before it's really cold out. 

If you can't make it out on the night of the peak, there will still be meteors in the sky on other nights, but you'll see fewer. Space.com reports that the number of meteors per hour will drop to around five by October 25. But don't miss out. Not because of FOMO or anything, but because you want to enjoy the outdoors before it really starts getting cold and you regret every moment not spent outside. It happens.

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. He will be outside, but he will not say the name of that star in Orion three times in a row. Follow him @dlukenelson.