Thank your lucky stars! The Orionid meteor shower peaks this weekend


The annual Orionid Meteor Shower peaks this weekend and the best viewing in the Philadelphia area will be Friday night into Saturday morning. There is also a chance that a particularly vibrant meteor called a "fireball" may form. Orionid meteors will appear in every part of the sky, but they will all trace back to a common origin near the bright star Betelgeuse, the star marking Orion's left shoulder, high up in the southeastern sky by 4 a.m.

The Orionid meteor shower will be putting on its best sky show of the month this weekend - late Friday night, October 20, into early Saturday morning, October 21.

As the comet moves through space, it leaves debris in its wake that strikes Earth's atmosphere most fully around October 20-22, each year.

The planet Uranus will be at its brightest visibility for the year Friday because it will be at an "opposition", which means it will be located opposite the sun, with the Earth between the two celestial bodies, the Taipei Astronomical Museum said Thursday.

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Star gazers will be aided this year by the lack of moonlight which should keep the skies clear of any hindering light pollution.

The best time to see the shower is after midnight. Numerous falling stars leave ionised trails of glowing gas in their path.

Although the number of Orionids can not rival the three major meteor showers of the year - the Quadrantids, Perseids and Geminids - they are known for consistency in intensity and convenience for observation, as they are both bright and positioned near the zenith, the museum said.

For best success, try to get away from city lights; face the south-southeast and enjoy the stars of the fall Milky Way. In this case speed is important because fast meteors have a tendency to explode. The closer to dawn you watch, the more meteors you are likely to see.