Orionids Meteor Shower Lights Up the Sky

Oct 21, 2009
Composite image of the 2009 Orionids meteor shower. Image credit: NASA/MSFC

Earth is currently passing through a stream of debris from Halley's Comet, lighting up the night sky with the "fireworks" of the annual Orionids meteor shower.

Flakes of dust hitting the are producing dozens of per hour. Normally this shower gives a modest display of 10 to 20 meteors per hour, but the past few years have been more lively than usual. The Orionids appear around this time each year as Earth orbits through an area of space littered with debris from the ancient comet.

This video is not supported by your browser at this time.

"Earth is passing through a stream of debris from Halley's Comet, the source of the Orionids," says Bill Cooke of NASA's Environment Office. "Flakes of hitting the atmosphere should give us dozens of meteors per hour."

The best time to look is before sunrise on Wednesday, Oct. 21st. That's when Earth encounters the densest part of Halley's debris stream. Observing is easy: Wake up a few hours before dawn, brew some hot chocolate, go outside and look up. No telescope is required to see Orionids shooting across the sky.

Orionids appear every year around this time when Earth orbits through an area of space littered with debris from the ancient comet. Normally, the shower produces 10 to 20 meteors per hour, a modest display. The past few years, however, have been much better than usual. "Since 2006, the Orionids have been one of the best showers of the year, with counts of 60 or more meteors per hour," says Cooke.

Provided by JPL/NASA (news : web)

Explore further: The source of the sky's X-ray glow

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Return of the Leonids

Nov 14, 2006

On Sunday, Nov. 19th, Earth will pass through a stream of debris from comet 55P/Tempel-Tuttle. The result: a shower of Leonid meteors.

Return of the Leonids

Dec 05, 2008

Astronomers from Caltech and NASA say a strong shower of Leonid meteors is coming in 2009. Their prediction follows an outburst on Nov. 17, 2008, that broke several years of "Leonid quiet" and heralds even ...

Perseid Meteor Shower To Peak Aug. 12

Aug 07, 2008

The annual Perseid meteor shower will be visible in the night sky throughout Colorado and will peak during the early morning hours of Aug. 12, according to an astronomy expert at the University of Colorado ...

Recommended for you

The source of the sky's X-ray glow

13 hours ago

In findings that help astrophysicists understand our corner of the galaxy, an international research team has shown that the soft X-ray glow blanketing the sky comes from both inside and outside the solar system.

End dawns for Europe's space cargo delivery role

22 hours ago

Europe will close an important chapter in its space flight history Tuesday, launching the fifth and final robot ship it had pledged for lifeline deliveries to the International Space Station.

Giant crater in Russia's far north sparks mystery

Jul 26, 2014

A vast crater discovered in a remote region of Siberia known to locals as "the end of the world" is causing a sensation in Russia, with a group of scientists being sent to investigate.

NASA Mars spacecraft prepare for close comet flyby

Jul 26, 2014

NASA is taking steps to protect its Mars orbiters, while preserving opportunities to gather valuable scientific data, as Comet C/2013 A1 Siding Spring heads toward a close flyby of Mars on Oct. 19.

Bacteria manipulate salt to build shelters to hibernate

Jul 25, 2014

For the first time, Spanish researchers have detected an unknown interaction between microorganisms and salt. When Escherichia coli cells are introduced into a droplet of salt water and is left to dry, b ...

How do we terraform Venus?

Jul 25, 2014

It might be possible to terraform Venus some day, when our technology gets good enough. The challenges for Venus are totally different than for Mars. How will we need to fix Venus?

User comments : 0