Uranus, Orionids to light up weekend sky

20 October, 2017, 00:38 | Author: Archie Newman
  • Orionid meteor shower: What is it and how can I see it?

The Orionids are remnants of Haley's Comet, one of the most famous comets here on Earth, which last flew by our planet in 1986 and is expected to return in 2061. When one of these dust particles plows into the Earth's upper atmosphere at almost 150,000 miles per hour, it burns up in a brief but brilliant flash of light, called a meteor.

Individual meteors have already been dashing across the nigh sky from October 15 and should remain visible until October 29.

The meteor shower peaks this Saturday morning, October 21st.

As the comet moves through space, it leaves debris in its wake that strikes Earth's atmosphere most fully around October 20-22, each year.

"The Orionids are known to be fast and on the faint side, but can sometimes surprise you with an exceptionally bright meteor that might break up into fragments", Byrd wrote in her blog.

By this time, the Moon will have set.

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Those who hope for a sight of Uranus should look for a blue-green body, visible to the naked eye when looking to the skies in the southeast.

The October meteors that Halley's Comet sends our way are called Orionid meteors because they appear to fan out from a point in the sky near the familiar winter star pattern of Orion the Hunter. Its absence provides darker skies to enjoy the show.

Although the meteors can appear in any part of the sky, they seem to come from the constellation of Orion, hence their name.

The shower produces around 20 meteors per hour, and stargazers are advised to get the best views by getting far away from city lights, which can reduce the number of meteors people can see.

The eastern USA will have the best weather on Friday night for viewing the shower with a large dome of high pressure promoting clear skies across the region, AccuWeather reports.

You can make your meteor watching experience much more comfortable if you take along a lawn chair, a blanket and a thermos of your favorite hot beverage.

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