One of the year’s best sky shows will peak between Oct. 20 and 22, when the Orionid meteor shower reaches its best viewing. The meteors that streak across the sky are some of the fastest and brightest among meteor showers, because the Earth is hitting a stream of particles almost head on.
As many as 80 meteors an hour will dash across the starry sky. Some Orionids will appear very fast and bright, since they can whiz by at up to 148,000 mph (238,000 km/h) in relative speed. That’s just six kilometers an hour slower than the Leonids, the speediest show of the year.
Orionid meteors are visible from anywhere on Earth and can be seen anywhere across the sky.
The particles come from Comet 1P/Halley, better known as Halley’s Comet. This famous comet swings by Earth every 75 to 76 years, and as the comet makes its way around the sun, it leaves behind a trail of debris.
The Orionids are named after the direction from which they appear to radiate, which is near the constellation Orion (The Hunter). In October, Orion is best visible around 2 a.m. Skywatchers in 2017 will not have moonlight to contend with, as the first-quarter moon will have set long before the meteors put on their best show.
Clips, images credit: ESA/HUBBLE, ESO & NASA
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