One of the best meteor showers of the year will peak tonight and will treat onlookers with nearly two dozen meteors per hour, as long as clouds do not interfere.
People planning to view the Orionid meteor shower should mark their calendar now for the night of Monday, Oct. 21 into the early morning of Tuesday, Oct. 22 as the shower reaches its peak.
Onlookers may spot shooting stars streaking across the sky beginning late Monday evening, but they will come in much greater numbers later in the night.
“This shower will be best viewed after midnight,” Samuhel said. “If you can spot Orion, then get ready for some meteors.”
This is because the shower’s radiant point, or point of origin, is located near the constellation Orion which doesn’t rise until after 11 p.m. local time. The higher the radiant point is in the sky, the higher the hourly rates of meteors per hour.
However, onlookers do not need to look at the radiant point to see meteors as they will appear in all areas of the sky.
Unfortunately, the moon will be a bit of an issue this year as it will rise just after midnight on the peak night, and will be around 50% illuminated, Samuhel said. This added light in the sky will make it more difficult to see some of the dimmer meteors, so late-night stargazers should look for meteors in parts of the sky away from the bright moon.
This year, the best viewing conditions are expected across the central and southwestern United States as cloud-free conditions are in the forecast during the peak of the Orionids.
Folks that miss the peak of the Orionids will have plenty of opportunities to look for shooting stars before 2019 comes to a close.
Four more meteor showers will reach their peak in the coming months, including the Geminids in mid-December. This shower regularly features over 100 meteors per hour.