Wed. Oct 28th, 2020

Orionids 2020: When is this week’s meteor shower? How to see the Orionid meteors?

3 min read

A waning Moon has set the scene for a stunning shooting star show this week, as the Orionid meteor shower approaches its peak. This means you can expect an almost inky black sky to provide an almost perfect backdrop for spotting this annual phenomenon over the next few nights.

What is the Orionid meteor shower?

Hunting for meteors, like the rest of astronomy, is a waiting game, so it’s best to bring a comfy chair to sit on and to wrap up warm as you could be outside for a while

Royal Observatory Greenwich

The Orionid meteor shower are simply the result of sand-sized cosmic dust and debris left from Halley’s Comet.

These are the detritus from the famous comet of them all – Halley – left behind from its innumerable orbits around the inner Solar System.

When the Earth’s annual orbit takes it through this comet-made cloud, extraterrestrial dust collides into our upper atmosphere and incinerates.

This results a natural firework display easily visible from the ground, in a phenomenon colloquially known as shooting stars and maybe even the odd fireball.

The Orionids are known to enter Earth’s atmosphere at unimaginably fast speeds of approximately 147,000mph (66 km/s).

A significant number of these meteors leave gorgeous lingering trails lasting as long as a few seconds.

And some of the slightly larger particles may even fragment and break-up in an even more spectacular fashion, creating even brighter fireballs.

The Orionids are one of the most eagerly anticipated meteor shower of the year.

Thus is due to both to the quantity and quality of meteors that early be viewed racing toward their death.

The shooting star show has already started, meaning a handful of meteors per hour should already be visible.

However, astronomers suggest putting October 21 and 22 in your diary, as this is when they are known peak in 2020.

Over these dates, lucky stargazers can anticipate to be able to see as many as 25 every hour.

What is the best time to see the Orionid meteor shower?

Meteor showers are always most visible when the heavens are dark, clear and cloud-free.

The Sun ruins any chance of seeing shooting stars and even the light of Full Moon can render them invisible.

Fortunately, this will not be an issue with meteor hunters this year, as there is currently a waning lunar crescent hanging in the sky.

Astronomers consequently advise shooting star enthusiasts to this year look up a little after midnight and prior to the break of dawn.

There is no need to worry if you miss this week’s peak – over Wednesday and Thursday – as some meteors will still be visible over the days before and after.

How to view the 2020 Orionid meteor shower?

The Orionids can be easily be viewed with just the naked eye, meaning no expensive telescopes or binoculars are necessary.

Astronomers suggest stargazers find a dark spot with unobstructed views of the horizon.

London’s Royal Observatory Greenwich said in a statement: “Hunting for meteors, like the rest of astronomy, is a waiting game, so it’s best to bring a comfy chair to sit on and to wrap up warm as you could be outside for a while.

“They can be seen with the naked eye so there’s no need for binoculars or a telescope, though you will need to allow your eyes to adjust to the dark.”

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