The Orionids Meteor Shower has begun to show itself this week with peak viewing expected to arrive this weekend. According to experts, the meteor shower should be at its fullest during Sunday's early hours before dawn.
Every year Orionids makes its way through the skies during the latter half of October. The meteor shower is expected to begin this week, with increased visibility over the weekend, with the best viewing anticipated to be in the early morning hours of Sun., Oct. 21. At this time, Orionids is expected to be directly overhead.
While Orionids isn't the most prominent when compared with other annual meteor showers, stargazers can expect to see a nice showing this year, experts say.
"The Orionid meteor shower isn't the strongest, but it is one of the most beautiful showers of the year," said Bill Cooke, the head of NASA's Meteoroid Environment Office.
Not every year is optimal for specific meteor showers, but for this year, since the moon will not be dominating the night skies, stargazers can expect a nice showing from Orionids. Space.com reported at this time the moon will be five days removed from its new phase and won't show up in pre-dawn skies and cast its light, shielding the meteors.
Orionids Meteor Shower
Orionids is one of two meteor showers that stem from Halley's Comet; the other, Eta Aquarids, typically arrives in early May.
Cooke noted viewers may see approximately 25 meteors per hour from Orionids during Sunday morning's peak.
“Be prepared for speed,” Cooke said. “Meteoroids from Halley’s Comet strike Earth's atmosphere traveling 148,000 mph. Only the November Leonids are faster.”
Those gazers who are lucky enough to have optimal viewing conditions may possibly see some fantastic streaks of light coming from Orionids; as NASA notes, fast meteors have a higher inclination to explode. In these conditions, brilliant flashes of light may be observed.