Here's How Halley's Comet Causes Tonight's Orionid Meteor Shower
You'll be able to see the shower on the morning of October 21.
Like an awkward dinner with the Starks, it's impossible to ignore that winter is coming. (It's snowing in Minnesota today.) That doesn't mean, however, that your stargazing adventures for the year are at an end. The Orionid meteor shower, one of the most reliable annual meteor showers, will peak the morning of Wednesday, October 21.
The celestial display may not be the most awe-inspiring shower of the year, but it's a beautiful show that could bring up to 20 meteors per hour at its peak, Bill Cooke of NASA's Meteoroid Environment Office tells Thrillist. Though, because the Orionids tend to be a bit faint, you'll need to head to dark skies to see as many as possible.
The meteors stem from what is arguably the most well-known comet that passes through our solar system, Comet 1P Halley, or Halley's Comet, which passes Earth once every 75 to 76 years. The Orionids, one of two meteor showers created by the comet, is a display created by the Earth's orbit crossing the trail of gas and dust left in Halley's wake.
The display works on a 12-year cycle. At the peak of that cycle, you can see from 80 to 90 meteors per hour. At the other end of the spectrum, it produces just 10 to 15. We're moving back toward the higher numbers right now, but there's a ways to go before we're back toward a stunning display that produces anywhere near 90 meteors an hour.
Additionally, the Orionids produce the fastest meteors of any shower except for November's Leonids. With meteors moving at 41 miles per second, they're amazing even if that's not the most friendly speed for watching the show. "The Orionids, because they're moving so fast, they burn up very quickly," Cooke told Thrillist. "In other words, you blink, you're going to miss them."
If you're going to try to not blink, the best time will be a few hours before sunrise. So, set alarm and fill the thermos with something warm.