Orionids

Orionid Meteor Shower 2020: How and Where to Watch

The Orionid meteor shower — one of two showers every year caused by Halley's Comet's return to the inner atmosphere — is peaking this week. Here's the best way to see it

An airplane flies in the night sky above a stargazer amid the Orionid meteor shower at Brimham Rocks in Yorkshire, England, Oct. 22, 2018.
Danny Lawson/PA Images via Getty Images (File)

With the many delights of fall in full swing, add another one to enjoy to your list: the Orionid meteor shower.

Every year, the Orionids peak in mid-October, and they're considered to be one of the most beautiful meteor showers of the year because they're known for their brightness and speed, according to NASA. Traveling around 148,000 mph into the Earth's atmosphere, they can leave glowing trails of incandescent debris, which can be visible for several seconds to minutes in the night sky.

The Orionids are one of two meteor showers sparked every year by Halley's Comet's return to the inner solar system, according to NASA. The other is the Eta Aquarids in May.

How to watch the Orionid meteor shower

The Orionid meteor shower will peak on Tuesday night into Wednesday morning, with around 20 meteors per hour visible to most of the world, according to AccuWeather. In total, the 2020 Orionids run from Oct. 2 to Nov. 7, according to the American Meteor Society, a nonprofit that monitors meteor activity.

Whether you're living in the Northern or Southern hemispheres, you should be able to see the Orionids in the hours after midnight, as long as you keep away from street lights and find a location with a clear view of the sky, according to NASA.

If you are in the Northern Hemisphere, NASA recommends lying on your back with your feet facing southeast. (But point them northeast if you are in the Southern Hemisphere.) Then, look up: It will take about 30 minutes for your eyes to adapt to the dark in order to see the meteors. They should be visible until dawn.

It's also better to avoid using binoculars and telescopes, as they limit your field of vision. (And don't forget a sleeping bag or blanket if you're going to be out all night.)

To learn more about meteor shower activity where you live, NASA has an online resource called the Fluxtimator, which determines the best spots for viewing nearby.

Other popular meteor showers that occurred earlier this year were the Lyrid meteor shower in April and the Perseid meteor shower in August.


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