Orionids Meteor Shower 2012: All You Need to Know

Shooting stars will be flying early on October 15th. The Orionids meteor shower promises to be a show worth watching.

The offspring of Halley's Comet are about to put on quite a show in the skies of Southern California.

Earth will pass through a stream of debris from Halley's Comet beginning today, which will give us the benefit of the annual Orionids meteor shower—though you probably won't see much until a bit later.

The shower should be at its peak the night of Saturday, Oct. 20, until just before dawn on Oct. 21. This year, the moon will be setting at approximately midnight, which will keep the sky darkened enough that—barring cloud cover—you should be able to see up to 15 meteors per hour.

What makes this shower so cool? First of all, c'mon—it's a show of shooting stars.

Also, though, there's no question about where to look for this one. Meteor showers get their names from the constellations in the sky where they can be spotted. And what's easier to spot than Orion the Hunter?

The stars tend to shoot from Orion's club, pierce Taurus the Bull, the Gemini twinsLeo the Lion and finally, Canis Major, home of Sirius, the brightest star we can see—well, aside from the sun.

There's also something else that's special about this show: With the second-fastest entry velocity of all the annual meteor showers, meteors from the Orionids produce yellow and green colors and occasionally produce an odd fireball.

The Taurids meteor shower will also start this month and meteors should be visible beginning on Oct. 20, according to Jet Propulsion Laboratory scientist Jane Houston Jones. Jones said in her monthly "What's Up" video for JPL that Taurids will peak in November.

The showers are best spotted in the wee hours. You can try to catch the action from Fiji Hill on the Occidental College campus. From there, you can not only see the showers against the eastern hills but can also get a spectacular 360-degree view of Los Angeles. Remember to check the weather forecast and conditions before you head outside to watch. 

Nelson R Grande II October 18, 2012 at 06:03 PM
Took the family overnight camping deep in Angeles Crest for the Perseids shower. Unbelievable. It was the first time I ever looked out into the Universe and felt a part of it. I recommend getting out of the city, quieting the mind, and grasping the reality of your spot in the vastness of space. It's life changing.


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