Orionid Meteor Shower Peaks This Week!

A free sky show for the entire family (NB US based diagram inverted)

Be sure to be outdoors before dawn leading up to the universal date of October 21 to enjoy one of the year’s most reliable meteor showers. Hey its a nice sight, it suits the whole family and best of all its FREE!

The Orionids are visible from the 15th to 29th, with the peak of the shower occurring on the 21st. This is a good shower for beginners with estimates of around 30 meteors per hour. The best time for viewing will be from around midnight until early dawn. The shower is centered on Orion’s club near the red supergiant star Betelgeuse and the meteors are typically fast, sometimes bright and generally more than half leave persistent trains. Orion is more commonly called the ‘Saucepan’ here in Australia.

The offspring of Comet Halley this dependable shower produces a good number of meteors per hour at maximum and the best activity begins before local midnight on the 2st. It reaches its best as Orion stands high in the morning sky in Australia at about two hours before local dawn on the 21st. This is gonna’ be great!

The Orionids are actually visible from the 15th to 29th, with the peak of the shower occurring, as mentioned, on the 21st. This is a good shower for beginners with estimates it could show around 30 meteors per hour if we’re lucky. The best time for viewing will be from around midnight until early dawn. This shower was first recorded by the Chinese in 288 AD and is associated with Comet Halley.

Although Comet Halley has long since departed our Solar System, the debris left from its trail still remain scattered in Earth’s orbital path around the Sun, allowing us to predict when this meteor shower will occur. We first enter the “stream” at the beginning of October and do not leave it until the beginning of November, making your chances of “catching a falling star” even greater! These meteors are very fast, and although they are faint, it is still possible to see an occasional fireball that leaves a persistent trail.

Ok, its staged but… these sort of scenes really do happen

For best success, try to get away from city lights. Facing overhead, simply relax and enjoy the stars of the winter Milky Way. The radiant, or apparent point of origin, for this shower will be near the red giant Alpha Orionis (Betelguese), but meteors may occur from any point in the sky.

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

Clouded out? Don’t despair. You don’t always need your eyes or perfect weather to meteor watch. By tuning an FM radio to the lowest frequency possible that does not receive a clear signal, you can practice radio meteor listening! An outdoor FM antenna pointed at the zenith and connected to your receiver will increase your chances, but it’s not necessary.

Simply turn up the static and listen. Those hums, whistles, beeps, bongs, and occasional snatches of signals are our own radio signals being reflected off the meteor’s ion trail! Pretty cool, huh? Illustration Courtesy of Star Date Magazine. Written by Tammy Plotner and submitted to “Dave Reneke’s World of Space and Astronomy News”.

Tips For Watching Meteors

Image result for tips on watching meteors meteor watching

People love’em… kids thrill to see ’em, and they just never cease to amaze. They’re meteor showers and it’s happening right now so head out in the backyard, set up and let’s take a look.

Most important: a dark sky. Here’s the first thing – the main thing – you need to know to become as proficient as the experts at watching meteors. That is, to watch meteors, you need a dark sky. It’s possible to glimpse meteors from the suburbs. But, to see the most meteors possible, avoid city lights.

Know your dates and times. You also need to be looking on the right date, at the right time of night. Meteor showers occur over a range of dates, because they stem from Earth’s own movement through space. As we orbit the sun, we cross “meteor streams.” These streams of icy particles in space come from comets moving in orbit around the sun. Comets are fragile icy bodies that litter their orbits with debris. When this cometary debris enters our atmosphere, it vaporizes due to friction with the air. If moonlight or city lights don’t obscure the view, we on Earth see the falling, vaporizing particles as meteors. The Lyrids take place between about April 16 and 25. The peak morning in 2013 should be April 22, but you might catch Lyrid meteors on the nights around that date as well.

Where to go and what to bring. You can comfortably watch meteors from many places, assuming you have a dark sky: a rural back yard or deck, the hood of your car, the side of a road. State parks and national parks are good bets, but be sure they have a wide open viewing area, like a field; you don’t want to be stuck in the midst of a forest on meteor night. If you want to bring along equipment to make yourself more comfortable, consider a blanket or reclining lawn chair, a thermos with a hot drink, binoculars for gazing at the stars. Be sure to dress warmly enough, even in spring or summer, especially in the hours before dawn.

Are the predictions reliable? Although astronomers have tried to publish exact predictions in recent years, meteor showers remain notoriously unpredictable. Your best bet is to go outside at the times we suggest, and plan to spend at least an hour, if not a whole night, reclining comfortably while looking up at the sky.

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