What Is The Orionid Meteor Shower? Here's The DL On The Light Show
If you've missed out on some pretty amazing celestial events this year, good news is coming your way. This October, you will be privy to seeing the Orionid meteor shower. For those who are wondering what the Orionid meteor shower is and the history behind it, this article hopes to answer all relevant inquiries and inspire your next stargazing trip. Because sometimes we have to just stop whatever we are doing and enjoy the starry night sky.
To understand the Orionid meteor shower, you must first learn a little about its origin. Every 76 years humans get to witness a rare event — the arrival of Halley's Comet. Named after Edmond Halley, the scientist who correctly predicted the comet's cycle around the sun but didn't get to live to see it happen in his lifetime, this event is special and spellbinding. Ever since the first recording about the sighting of Halley's Comet by Chinese astronomers in 239 B.C.E., Orionid meteor showers followed. The "falling stars" effect this phenomenon is known for is actually caused by the remnants of Halley's Comet. For stargazing fans out there, Orionid meteor showers appear to originate from the Orion constellation — tricking the eye into thinking that they are shooting out of Orion's sword. Alas, the actual explanation is a lot more subdued, but no less interesting.
While Halley's Comet is an event most people only see once in a lifetime, Orionid meteor showers are quite common. They vary greatly from year to year in terms of their visibility and grandeur. In the past, the numbers of meteors to light up the night sky during the event has been upwards of 70, but this year we can expect 15 to 20.
If you are looking to go out and see this celestial event for yourself, it can be done quite easily. To see Halley's Comet you will need to wait until 2061, but to see the next Orionid meteor shower you'll have to only sit tight until Oct. 20 or 21. So grab a couple of your friends, a DSLR camera, and a tripod, and drive outside of the city. Your best bet would be finding a spot that's away from strong light sources — an open field or a lookout point are ideal. The most visibility will occur the hour right after midnight and the hour right before dusk. Not exactly conducive to a 9-to-5 job schedule, but worth it none the less.
Just gaze in the general direction of Orion, and you'll most likely spot a few falling stars. If you are not familiar with star constellations or astrology in general, don't panic. I personally like and use the free SkyView app you can get on your phone for all my stargazing needs. You just point it at the night sky and the app will show you where the constellations are.