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article imageMoonlit meteor shower visible this week, stargazer enthused Special

By Kim I. Hartman     Oct 22, 2010 in Science
Charleston - A spectacular stream of meteors believed to be leftovers from Halley's Comet is expected to streak across the skies this week, but a full harvest moon will compete for attention and may obstruct some of the view. Be sure to take in this light show.
The meteors, a junior version of the famous Perseid meteor shower, are called the Orionids because they appear to shoot from the second-brightest star in the Orion constellation, or from the hunter's elbow. Up to 30 meteors -- fast, bright streaks like shooting stars -- could be visible each hour in the night sky, starting tonight, reports.
"The Orionids are fast meteors and also have fireballs. The radiant of the shower will be observed north of Betelgeuse, the brightest star in the constellation Orion, the Mighty Hunter," Graciano Yumul, an officer at the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration, told GMA News.
The shower's radiant point is near the celestial equator, meaning that it'll be visible in both the northern and southern hemispheres, according to iSurf News.
In West Virginia, with very little pollution or outdoor lighting to interfere with the view, the meteor show has been spectacular, drawing many outdoors in the light of the full moon to witness the stunning beauty of the Universe at play. The later you go outside the better says meteorologist and stargazers.
The activity from this particular meteor light show is best seen just before dawn each day and is well worth setting the alarm or getting up early to visually enjoy. The best places from which to view the meteor shower are in rural spots that don't have other light or heavy pollution.
The past two nights the sky has been crystal clear offering prime conditions even with the effect of the full moon dimming some of the skyrocketing light streams as they seem to float gentle through the night sky. Dozens of streaks of light could be counted each hour after midnight last night, as many as 50 in one thirty minute period shortly between 2 and 3am this morning, Thursday.
The annual show usually happens from Oct. 17 to Oct. 29, and this year it'll peak before dawn on Thursday. But that's also when a full moon will appear over North America, in most places on Saturday, perhaps dimming the light of the meteors. So the best viewing times are believed to be earlier in the week, when the moon isn't as bright, so far the view has been magnificent, we have not been disappointe this week and it is expected to only get better.
The Orionids are thought be caused by Halley's Comet, which was named for astronomer Edmond Halley and passes through the inner solar system once every 76 years. The last time was in 1986.
But every time Halley's Comet zooms past the sun, bits of ice and rock are evaporated off the comet and go flying into space. The debris hangs there in space and create the annual Orionid display.
More about Meteor, Meteor shower, Moonlight, Stargazer, Halleys comet perseid meteor
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