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Weekend Orionid Meteor Shower

October 21, 2011 Leave a comment

Earth is about to pass through a stream of debris from Halley’s comet, source of the annual Orionid meteor shower.  Forecasters expect more than 15 meteors per hour to fly across the sky on Saturday morning, Oct. 22nd, when the shower peaks.

“Although this isn’t the biggest meteor shower of the year, it’s definitely worth waking up for,” says Bill Cooke of the NASA Meteoroid Environment Office. “The setting is dynamite.”

Orionids are framed by some of the brightest and most beautiful constellations in the night sky. The meteors emerge from mighty Orion, the shower’s glittering namesake.  From there they streak through Taurus the Bull, the twins of Gemini, Leo the Lion, and Canis Major–home to Sirius, the most brilliant star of all.

This year, the Moon and Mars are part of the show.  They’ll form two vertices of a celestial triangle in the eastern sky on Saturday morning while the shower is most active; Regulus is the third vertex.  Blue Regulus and red Mars are both approximately of 1st magnitude, so they are easy to see alongside the 35% crescent Moon.  Many Orionids will be diving through the triangle in the hours before dawn.

Full Story: http://science.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/2011/20oct_orionids/