Orionid Meteor Shower 2015


An Orionid meteor captured in a full-sky camera (credit: NASA)

The usually reliable Orionid meteor shower runs from October 17-25, 2015, and peaks in the early morning of October 21. The first-quarter Moon will set after midnight at the peak of the shower year, so it will be a great year to see the Orionids, which at their peak, can display as many as 30 meteors per hour.

Like all meteor showers, the Orionids occur as the Earth passes through the debris-strewn path of a comet, in this case, Halley’s Comet. The meteors are simply tiny bits of ice and dust that fell away from the comet and plowed into our atmosphere. Because of the geometry of the Earth’ orbit relative to the debris stream, the Orionids appear to originate from a point near the upraised ‘club’ of the constellation Orion just north of the bright red-orange star Betelgeuse.

Debris from Comet Halley also produces the Eta Aquariid meteor shower in May each year. 

The Orionid meteors will be visible to observers in both the northern and southern hemispheres. If a meteor traces its path back in the direction of Orion, that means it’s likely an Orionid. More meteors are typically visible after midnight as the Earth turns into the debris field of Comet Halley.

This is one of the best meteor showers of the year, for observers in both the northern and southern hemispheres, so wander out after midnight and look for the detritus of an ancient comet to streak through the sky.

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