This weekend, chances are you should be looking up at the night sky. The Orionid meteor shower will be lighting up the night sky with shooting stars.
The Orionid meteor shower has begun and will peak Saturday. The meteor shower and the large number of shooting stars filling the night sky are due to Halley’s Comet.
Halley’s Comet takes around 76 years to make its orbit around the Earth. While we won’t be able to see Halley’s Comet again until 2061, we are crossing the dust and ice that it left behind. As the Earth crosses into this path of debris from Halley’s Comet, all the dust and ice will hit the atmosphere, causing one spectacular meteor shower.
The Orionids gets their name because they appear to be falling from the Orion constellation -- which is actually untold light years in "back" of them. During its peak, skywatchers could expect up to 25 meteors per hour. "Since 2006, the Orionids have been one of the best showers of the year, with counts in some years up to 60 or more meteors per hour," says Bill Cooke, from NASA’s Meteoroid Environment Office.
Some parts of California have already experienced the meteor shower according to the Contra Costa Times. Northern California residents “reported seeing the bright lights and hearing a loud boom throughout Northern California, with sightings as far as Santa Cruz County,” according to the Contra Costa Times.
The rest of the world won’t have to wait much longer to witness the Orionids meteor shower. Around 11 Saturday night, just go outside, find somewhere dark and away from city lights and look up. No telescope is needed. The peak of the meteor shower is from 11 p.m. to 5:30 a.m. Light from the moon won’t be a factor either, according to NASA.
According to The University of Texas at Austin McDonald Observatory, try looking toward Orion’s belt. Make sure your eyes are adjusted to the dark, get comfortable and enjoy the show. According to NASA, not only will you be able to witness the meteor shower, but chances are you will be able to see Venus, Sirius and the Gemini and Taurus constellations.