Popular Orionid meteor shower to peak in the night sky this week

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Orionid Meteor Show Will Take Place Wednesday or Thursday


By Heather Janssen, AccuWeather.com


The peak of the Orionid meteor shower is set for the night of Oct. 21 into the early morning hours of Oct. 22.

"The Orionids are popular among stargazers because of all its individual shooting stars are fragments of the most famous comet of all time, Halley's Comet, which has the scientific designation of P1, meaning the first periodic (returning again and again) comet ever known," Slooh Astronomer Bob Berman said.

The Orionid meteors are simply tiny bits of ice and dust that fell away from the comet and plowed into our atmosphere, according to Slooh, a community observatory that has connected telescopes to the Internet for public use.

Slooh added that at the shower's peak, the Orionids can display as many as 30 meteors per hour. They will be visible in both the Northern and Southern hemisphere.

"These are such fast-shooting stars, they only last for a second or so, so observers should keep their eyes glued to the sky or you'll miss them," Berman said. "Expect to see the greatest number between midnight and dawn, at which time an observer away from light pollution can expect to see one every two to three minutes."

The first-quarter moon will also be setting after midnight at the peak of the shower this year, providing excellent viewing conditions.

Stargazers who will encounter inclement weather or cloudy skies can view Slooh's live broadcast of the meteor shower starting at 8 p.m. EDT on Oct. 21.

Observers across the Southeast will see favorable conditions for viewing the Orionids as high pressure sits overhead, AccuWeather Meteorologist Steve Travis said.

"Anywhere from the Carolinas to Arkansas will have mainly clear skies. There may be a few more clouds around along the east coast of Florida, but overall there will still be clear areas to spot meteors," Travis stated.

A storm system moving across the Great Lakes will spread clouds from Michigan and eastern Wisconsin eastward to Pennsylvania and Ohio. Clouds will also blanket New England, making for poor viewing conditions.

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"Cloudy skies will be found across much of southern and central Texas into the Four Corners region, western Oklahoma and western Kansas, so conditions will be unfavorable in these areas," Travis said.

Mainly clear skies across the Southwest and northern Plainsin, including much of California, Nevada, Montana and the Dakotas, will make for excellent viewing conditions.

According to Travis, the Pacific Northwest will have some clouds overhead; however, there may be enough breaks to spot meteors.

The Orionids, like all meteor showers, get their name from the place in the sky where all meteors seem to radiate, Berman said. "In this case, they all zoom, at 40 miles per second, from just above the famous supergiant star Betelgeuse in Orion. Hence the Orionids."

Check out photos of the Perseid meteor shower earlier this year:

19 PHOTOS
Perseid meteor shower 2015
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Popular Orionid meteor shower to peak in the night sky this week
A long exposure image showing an aeroplane passing in the sky during the Perseids meteor shower over the remains of St. Ilia Roman early Christian basilica dated back to the 5th6th century AD near the town of Pirdop, early on August 12, 2015. The Perseid meteor shower occurs every year in August when the Earth passes through the debris and dust of the Swift-Tuttle comet. The Perseid meteor shower -- an annual display of natural fireworks -- should be particularly spectacular this year, with extra-dark skies expected to create optimal stargazing conditions, astronomers said on August 7, 2015. AFP PHOTO / NIKOLAY DOYCHINOV (Photo credit should read NIKOLAY DOYCHINOV/AFP/Getty Images)
SPRING MOUNTAINS NATIONAL RECREATION AREA, NV - AUGUST 13: A Perseid meteor streaks across the sky above desert pine trees on August 13, 2015 in the Spring Mountains National Recreation Area, Nevada. The annual display, known as the Perseid shower because the meteors appear to radiate from the constellation Perseus in the northeastern sky, is a result of Earth's orbit passing through debris from the comet Swift-Tuttle. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
A photographer prepares to take pictures of the annual Perseid meteor shower in the village of Crissolo, near Cuneo, in the Monviso Alps region of northern Italy, on August 13, 2015. The Perseid meteor shower occurs every year when the Earth passes through the cloud of debris left by Comet Swift-Tuttle. AFP PHOTO / MARCO BERTORELLO (Photo credit should read MARCO BERTORELLO/AFP/Getty Images)
A general view of the stars above Sycamore Gap prior to the Perseid Meteor Shower above Hadrian's Wall near Bardon Mill, England, Wednesday, Aug. 12, 2015. The annual Perseid meteor shower reaches its peak on Wednesday night, but much of the UK is facing cloudy conditions. The best places to view the event is in northern England and Scotland. (AP Photo/Scott Heppell)
A falling star crosses the night sky behind illuminated windmills near Gemuend, western Germany, during the peak in activity of the annual Perseids meteor shower on August 13, 2015. The Perseids meteor shower occurs every year when the Earth passes through the cloud of debris left by Comet Swift-Tuttle. AFP PHOTO / DPA / OLIVER BERG +++ GERMANY OUT (Photo credit should read OLIVER BERG/AFP/Getty Images)
A falling star (L) crosses the night sky near Gemuend, western Germany, as the trace of an airplane (R) also can be seen during the peak in activity of the annual Perseids meteor shower on August 13, 2015. The Perseids meteor shower occurs every year when the Earth passes through the cloud of debris left by Comet Swift-Tuttle. AFP PHOTO / DPA / OLIVER BERG +++ GERMANY OUT (Photo credit should read OLIVER BERG/AFP/Getty Images)
Stars seen as streaks from a long camera exposure are seen behind a silhouette of a Spanish fighting bull, conceived decades ago as highway billboards in Cordoba, Spain, Wednesday, Aug. 12, 2015. Some Catholics refer to the Perseids as the "tears of Saint Lawrence", since 10 August is the date of that saint's martyrdom. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)
A photographer prepares to take pictures of the annual Perseid meteor shower in the village of Crissolo, near Cuneo, in the Monviso Alps region of northern Italy, on August 13, 2015. The Perseid meteor shower occurs every year when the Earth passes through the cloud of debris left by Comet Swift-Tuttle. AFP PHOTO / MARCO BERTORELLO (Photo credit should read MARCO BERTORELLO/AFP/Getty Images)
ONDREJOV, CZECH REPUBLIC - AUGUST 12: Perseid meteor (L) streaks across the sky over the radar near the Astronomical Institute of the Academy of Science of the Czech Republic on August 12, 2015 in Ondrejov, Czech Republic. The annual display, known as the Perseid shower, because the meteors appear to radiate from the constellation Perseus in the northeastern sky, is the result of Earth's orbit passing through debris from the comet Swift-Tuttle. (Photo by Matej Divizna/Getty Images)
A falling star crosses the night sky over Halle / Saale, eastern Germany, during the peak in activity of the annual Perseids meteor shower on August 13, 2015. The Perseids meteor shower occurs every year when the Earth passes through the cloud of debris left by Comet Swift-Tuttle. AFP PHOTO / DPA / HENDRIK SCHMIDT +++ GERMANY OUT (Photo credit should read HENDRIK SCHMIDT/AFP/Getty Images)
A meteor passes across the sky during the peak in activity of the annual Perseids meteor shower in the village of Rufforth, near York, northern England on August 12, 2015. The Perseids meteor shower occurs every year when the Earth passes through the cloud of debris left by Comet Swift-Tuttle. AFP PHOTO / OLI SCARFF (Photo credit should read OLI SCARFF/AFP/Getty Images)
A photographer prepares to take pictures of the annual Perseid meteor shower in the village of Crissolo, near Cuneo, in the Monviso Alps region of northern Italy, on August 13, 2015. The Perseid meteor shower occurs every year when the Earth passes through the cloud of debris left by Comet Swift-Tuttle. AFP PHOTO / MARCO BERTORELLO (Photo credit should read MARCO BERTORELLO/AFP/Getty Images)
A long exposure image showing a Perseids meteor (L) streaking across the night sky over the remains of St. Ilia Roman early Christian basilica dated back to the 5th6th century AD near the town of Pirdop, early on August 12, 2015. The Perseid meteor shower occurs every year in August when the Earth passes through the debris and dust of the Swift-Tuttle comet. The Perseid meteor shower -- an annual display of natural fireworks -- should be particularly spectacular this year, with extra-dark skies expected to create optimal stargazing conditions, astronomers said on August 7, 2015. AFP PHOTO / NIKOLAY DOYCHINOV (Photo credit should read NIKOLAY DOYCHINOV/AFP/Getty Images)
Clouds partly cover the star speckled night sky over Sieversdorf, eastern Germany, on August 11, 2015. The peak of the Perseid meteor shower is expected for the night to Thursday, August 13, 2015. AFP PHOTO / DPA / PATRICK PLEUL +++ GERMANY OUT (Photo credit should read PATRICK PLEUL/AFP/Getty Images)
A photographer prepares to take pictures of the annual Perseid meteor shower in the village of Crissolo, near Cuneo, in the Monviso Alps region of northern Italy, on August 13, 2015. The Perseid meteor shower occurs every year when the Earth passes through the cloud of debris left by Comet Swift-Tuttle. AFP PHOTO / MARCO BERTORELLO (Photo credit should read MARCO BERTORELLO/AFP/Getty Images)
Stars and meteor streaks are seen behind a destroyed house, near Tuzla, Bosnia, Wednesday, Aug. 12, 2015. The annual Perseid meteor shower reaches its peak on Wednesday night. (AP Photo/Amel Emric)
Stars, clouds and storm seen as streaks from a long camera exposure are seen behind a Stations of The Cross, in Ujue, northern Spain, Wednesday, Aug. 12, 2015. The meteor shower is expected to peak Wednesday night into Thursday morning. (AP Photo/Alvaro Barrientos)
A photographer prepares to take pictures of the annual Perseid meteor shower in the village of Crissolo, near Cuneo, in the Monviso Alps region of northern Italy, on August 13, 2015. The Perseid meteor shower occurs every year when the Earth passes through the cloud of debris left by Comet Swift-Tuttle. AFP PHOTO / MARCO BERTORELLO (Photo credit should read MARCO BERTORELLO/AFP/Getty Images)
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