Stargazers might not want to hit the snooze button if they want to see the Orionid meteor shower. The Orionids peak Wednesday night into early Thursday morning, but pre-dawn hours will provide the best viewing experience. If waking up early -- or escaping city lights -- seems impossible, SLOOH and NASA will provide separate Orionid live-stream broadcasts beginning at 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. EDT, respectively.
The meteor shower gets its name because the perceived radiant -- or point of origin -- is the constellation Orion. While not as big a show as the summer's Perseids, the Orionid meteor shower has an impressive pedigree. The meteors may look like they are coming from the famed hunter, but Halley's Comet is actually responsible for the Orionids. As Halley's Comet makes its roughly 75-year journey through the solar system, it leaves behind a debris trail. Each year, Earth passes through this stream in May -- resulting in the Eta Aquarids -- and in October.
As for how many meteors can be seen, it depends on local conditions. The American Meteor Society predicts up to 20 meteors per hour, while NASA has a more modest 12 meteors-per-hour estimate. Orionids or not, the night sky will be pretty spectacular. To view the meteor shower, one has to find Orion -- look for the three stars that make up his belt -- and several of the brightest stars in the sky. Orion hosts Rigel, the seventh-brightest star in the night sky, and Betelgeuse, the 10th-brightest star. Not too far away from Orion is Sirius, the brightest star in the night sky, according to NASA. The space agency recommends observing the Orionids around 2 a.m. EDT. Other points of interest include constellations Gemini and Taurus, Jupiter and Venus.
SLOOH, the international team of observatories and astronomers, will have a broadcast originating from the Canary Islands beginning at 8 p.m. EDT.
NASA's live stream takes place at the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. The space agency expects meteors to be visible around 11:30 p.m. EDT.