Turn off Netflix this weekend and head outdoors to watch the peak of the Orionid Meteor Shower instead. The starry spectacle is set to take place between Oct. 20 and Oct. 22, offering a dazzling display that should delight veteran and novice stargazers alike.
This year’s Orionid meteor shower should be especially good because there will be little moonlight that could otherwise drown out the meteors. Just make sure you have clear skies in your local forecast before heading out.
“The Orionids peak on October 20 — a dark, moonless night,” wrote NASA’s Jane Houston Jones in a recent statement. “Look near Orion’s club in the hours before dawn and you may see up to 10 to 15 meteors per hour.”
In non-scientific language, the best time to watch the Orionid meteor shower is between midnight and dawn on Friday or Saturday night. It should be visible from anywhere on Earth, but a better shower will be seen in rural areas where there is less light pollution. Visit Dark Site Finder to locate the nearest dark sky site near you. You do not need a telescope to watch the meteors streaking across the entire sky.
The Orionid meteor shower occurs each year as the earth moves through debris left behind by Halley’s Comet, the source of the Orionid meteors. The meteors, also known as shooting stars, are named Orionids because they appear to radiate from the constellation Orion, named after a hunter of Greek lore.
Halley’s Comet is visible from the Earth only once every 75 years. It was last seen in the 1980s, when it graced the cover of TIME magazine. The comet is projected to return in 2061, according to Space.com.
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