The Orionid meteor shower is still building to its climax, but you should now search the sky over Colorado. By the time the peak arrives one or two hours before dawn on the morning of October 21, a bright, growing moon – meaning the moon is getting bigger – will disturb the viewing, but you should be able to see meteors this week While the Orionids are typically modest in the number of meteors they produce – between 20 and 30 shooting stars – the shower is one of the most beautiful of the year because it is known for its brightness and speed to NASA.
The weather forecast in Colorado over the next few days requires clear skies. The long-range forecast calls for cloudy skies over night when the shower reaches its peak on the 21
The fast-moving Orionids travel at about 148,000 miles and can leave glowing "puffs" – that is, glowing debris that can last for a few seconds to minutes. Fast meteorites also sometimes turn into fireballs, so look out for longer bursts of light when you look at the Orionids, NASA says.
And there is another bonus:
"The Orionids are also framed by some of the brightest stars in the night sky, providing a spectacular backdrop for these eye-catching meteors," NASA wrote on its website
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The Orionids are not the only meteorites flying at dawn.
If you see meteors in the northern sky, they could be remnants of the Draconids, which peaked earlier this month. But if they come from the south, they can be part of the long-lasting Taurian meteor shower that started in September and lasts until the beginning of December.
So, how will you know if you see shooting stars? the Orionid meteor shower? First, look at the eastern sky to find Orion the Hunter, one of the most conspicuous constellations. Orion's sword, just north of his left shoulder, is the radiant point of the shower (the star Betelgeuse). If you see a meteor, lead it back to Orion.
But not staring directly at Orion.
"It's actually better to see the Orionids from 45 to 90 degrees from the radiant," says NASA. "You will look longer and more spectacular from this perspective, and if you look directly at the radiant, you will find that the meteors are short – this is an effect of foreshortening."
See also: Patch 2018 Guide to Meteor Shower, Celestial Events
If you wait for the Orionids to look for meteors on October 21, you will become EarthSky.org There will only be a short window to see them in the hour or two before dawn. The meteors fly through the 29th of October.
The Orionids are extremely fast and whiz at around 148,000 miles per hour. That can produce up to 80 meteors an hour, but 2018 is not expected to be an outbreak year, Cooke said. Instead, they are likely to fly at a speed of 20 or 30 per hour, he said.
Like the Eta Aquarids in May, the Orionids are produced by debris left by the comet Halley, the most famous of all comets. Halley swings in the sun every 76 years and was last seen on Earth in 1986 and will not be seen again until 2062. The comet leaves behind a wreckage track that the earth plows twice a year during its orbit.
More meteor showers in 2018
If the Orionids disappoint, there are several ways to see meteor showers in 2018. If you can only catch one of them, make the Geminids in mid-December. It is usually the best of the year and produces up to 120 colorful meteors per hour. Here is a look at what lies ahead:
Nov. 5-6: The Taurid Meteor Shower lasts from December 7th to 7th. 10, and it is unusual that it consists of two separate streams – the first of dust grains left by Asteroid 2004 TG10, and the second produced by debris from Comet 2P Encke. It's a small show, producing only about 5 or 10 meteors an hour and is best viewed after midnight. The meteors are from the constellation Taurus, but you should be able to see them everywhere in the sky
Nov. 17-18 clock: The Leonid meteor shower runs from 6 to 30 November. It's an average shower offering up to 15 meteors an hour at its peak, but the Leonid has a cyclonic peak every 33 years where hundreds of shooting stars can be seen. The last time it happened was in 2001. Though not as productive as some other meteor showers, the meteors are extremely fast and move at a speed of about 44 miles per second, which increases the likelihood of fireballs. The shower comes from the Leo constellation, but meteors can be seen from any point in the sky. It is produced by dust grains left behind by the comet Temple-Tuttle, which was discovered in 1865. The best time to observe is in the early morning, and the sky should be quite dark thanks to a growing moon.
December 13-14: The Geminid meteor shower, which comes from the constellation Gemini, is usually the best of the year and produces up to 120 colorful meteors per hour at the top. The shower runs from 7 to 17 December and is produced by debris left behind by the asteroid 3200 Phaethon, which was discovered in 1982. The visibility conditions should be excellent as the first quarter moon sets shortly after midnight and leaves behind dark skies. The highest observation times are in the early morning, but the Geminids are also active before midnight.
December 21-22: The last meteor shower of the year is a small one, and it is often overlooked. The Ursides' meteor shower, which runs from December 17 to 25, produces about 5 to 10 meteors per hour, although occasional outbreaks have produced 25 or more per hour. A full moon, however, will wash out all but the brightest. The Ursides are from the constellation Ursa Minor and are produced by dust grains left by the 1792 discovered comet Tuttle. The best observation times are after midnight.
By Beth Dalbey, Patch National Staff
Photo by Ethan Miller / Getty Images
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