The Orionid Meteor Shower Peaks Tonight, and Up to 20 Meteors Will Be Visible Per Hour

·2 min read
Photo credit: Haitong Yu - Getty Images
Photo credit: Haitong Yu - Getty Images
  • The annual Orionid meteor shower is well underway and will be visible through November 22, 2021.

  • Between Wednesday, October 20 and the morning of Thursday, October 21, the meteor shower will be at its peak.

  • Up to 20 meteors will be visible per hour during the shower, but the full Hunter's Moon could interfere with your viewing plans.

Get ready for an incredible light show as the Orionid meteor shower continues to make its way across the sky through November 22, 2021. The shower began last month on September 26, but will peak tonight, October 20, through tomorrow morning, according to the American Meteor Society (AMS).

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While the Orionid meteor shower isn't the most spectacular show of the year—that title is most often given to the Geminids, which are coming up this December—they're still very much worth the effort to watch, according to NASA. The space agency says they're "known for their brightness and for their speed." The shower usually produces 10 to 20 meteors per hour, according to the Griffith Observatory.

But before you head outside, know that October's Hunter's Moon might interfere with the shower's peak viewing hours. Both the full moon and the Orionids will peak overnight, meaning that there will be a ton of extra light in the sky, which could impact your ability to spot shooting stars as they sail by.

To give yourself the best viewing conditions possible, be prepared to stay up late; the meteors are most visible in the hours after midnight, NASA explains. Next, find an area with as little artificial light as possible, lay down with your feet facing southeast, and look straight up, taking in as much of the night sky as possible. In less than 30 minutes, your eyes will be fully adjusted. Then, it's a waiting game until you see your first Orionid.

Photo credit: Jeff Dai/Stocktrek Images - Getty Images
Photo credit: Jeff Dai/Stocktrek Images - Getty Images

This particular meteor shower gets its name from the constellation Orion, the Griffith Observatory explains, which is visible around the world and is one of the easiest to identify. The meteors appear to originate from this constellation—and since its stars are so bright, NASA notes, it makes a wonderful sight.

This meteor shower is made up of remnants of Halley's Comet, which takes about 76 years to orbit the sun. Each year, when Earth passes through the comet's trail, pieces of space debris enter our atmosphere and burn up, creating streaks of light in the sky.

The next meteor showers to peak will be the Southern Taurids on the night of November 4 and the Northern Taurids on the night of November 11, both of which are currently active, per the AMS. But for now, we've got plenty of Orionids to brighten our evenings and keep us entertained.

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