How to Watch the Orionids Meteor Shower in 2019

By: Mae Rice

If you've seen a shooting star on a recent stargazing jaunt, you've spotted the very beginning of the Orionids meteor shower. It happens every fall in October or early November, and peak viewing hours are coming soon to skies near you.

November 05, 2019

Where to See It

Anywhere! The meteor shower is visible literally anywhere on Earth. You have to go outside, but that's the only real rule.

When to See It

This year, the best viewing window will come around October 22. (That's a Tuesday.) While the moon doesn't always behave when it comes to peak meteor shower viewing, this year it should be getting close to waning, so the light it produces shouldn't outshine the meteors too much.

That said, the meteor shower lasts more than one night. It actually runs from October 2 to November 7, so you have plenty of opportunities to catch it. Tuesday morning will be the shower's peak, but you could also take your chances on Monday night. Though meteor showers are always unpredictable, you should be able to see somewhere between 10 and 20 meteors per hour.

How to See It

You just need to track down the meteor shower's namesake constellation, Orion the Hunter, in the sky. (The easiest method is to find three bright stars in a short row; that's his belt.) From there, find his sword area; the bulk of the meteors will be emerging from around there.

That's it! You don't need any special gear to watch the shower. Experts actually advise against using binoculars or telescopes. They magnify the sky, but also limit your field of vision. Ultimately, the naked eye works better.

What Is the Orionids Meteor Shower?

Short answer: flaming space junk! If you'd prefer a longer answer, though: This particular shower is composed of debris from Halley's Comet, a famous comet that zooms past Earth every 75 years or so. It's been in action for millennia — the first Halley sighting was recorded in 239 B.C.E. — leaving a long, looping trail of debris in its wake.

The Orionids shower happens when Earth orbits through a specific patch of this trail. (It's not the only Halley-related meteor shower, though; Halley also gave us the Eta Aquarids, which happen every May.) The chunks of debris hit the Earth's atmosphere at an incredible speed — think 41 miles per second. Thankfully, these chunks are tiny compared to, say, the meteor that wiped out the dinosaurs. Some of them are as small as a grain of sand. So instead of kicking off the apocalypse, these bits of junk vaporize in motion in midair, creating the shooting-star effect we all know and love and make wishes on.

No actual stars are involved, though. Meteor showers are really just flaming space junk — though they're way more picturesque than that sounds.

This article first appeared on Curiosity.com. Click here to read the original article.

Views of the Orionids

Here are some images captured around the world and shared online.

Next Up

How Did the Solar System Form?

How did our solar system form? It's a pretty simple and straightforward question, but as with most things in science, simple and straightforward doesn't necessarily mean easy.

Voyager 2 is Really Far Out There, Man

Currently Voyager 2 is about 11 billion miles from the Earth, and has been traveling at speeds of tens of thousands of miles per hour since its launch in 1977. Read more to see where it is now and what we've learned.

NASA and SpaceX are Going on a Date, and We're All Invited

Save the date--On May 27th, if everything goes as planned, a rocket will launch from Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida. Watch SPACE LAUNCH LIVE: AMERICA RETURNS TO SPACE on Discovery and Science Channel starting at 2P ET.

Let’s Look for Water on the Moon

NASA is headed to the moon, but this time it's in search of water. Astrophysicist Paul M Sutter shares what this means and why it's important.

2020: A Year of Big Leaps for Mankind

Here are a variety of some amazing space launches to look forward to in 2020.

Red Rover, Red Rover, Send Perseverance Right Over

A few years ago, after the successful deployment of the Curiosity rover on Mars, the folks at NASA envisioned a bold new plan to send another mission to the red planet. The mission was scheduled to depart in the then-futuristic year of 2020.

SpaceX vs. the Universe

Fans of space are having a tough time picking sides over a recent controversy between SpaceX and astronomers. But what's the big debate all about? Astrophysicist Paul M. Sutter digs into both perspectives.

India’s Space Agency is Going Big… By Going Small

Astrophysicist Paul M. Sutter shares the latest in the world of rocket launches and what India’s SSLV is all about.

All Aboard the Starliner!

Boeing’s Starliner capsule launched on Friday. Astrophysicist Paul M Sutter has everything you need to know about the Starliner and its mission.

What are the Chances of Life Appearing On…Earth?

Just how lucky are we on Earth? What were the chances that life would arise, let alone lead to intelligence?
Related To: