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A moon as bright as this one will compete with the Orionid meteors this year, but the shower is still worth watching—you might witness a streak of light!

Orionid Meteors Struggle Against Mighty Moonlight

ICTMN Staff
10/20/16

Halley’s Comet only passes by Mother Earth every 75 years, but twice a year it sends emissaries in the form of shooting stars.

The Orionid meteor shower’s peak is set to grace our skies overnight on October 20–21, if we can find a way to see past the moon, which will be bright as it wanes.

Visible or not, meteors are mini-miracles as they slam into Earth’s atmosphere and disintegrate.

“A one-gram fragment of Halley slamming into Earth's atmosphere at a typical speed of around 148,000 mph (238,000 km/h) can produce a jaw-dropping fireball,” notes Sky and Telescope.

This year’s batch will bring 15 to 20 meteors hourly, according to Space.com, though in peak years they can burst into flower with 70 to 80 an hour. But keep your eyes peeled, because at those speeds, “If you blink, you might miss them," NASA meteor expert Bill Cooke told Space.com.

The moonlight will most likely get in the way, but as usual with big sky events, the SLOOH online telescope will live broadcast the shower online starting at 8 p.m. EDT on October 20, according to Sky and Telescope.

And all is not lost if you want to observe directly.

“The meteors should become visible, starting at late evening on October 20, but will probably be most prolific in the few hours before dawn on October 21,” says Earthsky.org. “As is standard for most meteor showers, the best time to watch this shower will be between the hours of midnight and dawn—regardless of your time zone.”

Halley itself last visited in 1986, Earthsky.org tells us, and its next appearance will be in 2061. Most people get to see it just once in their lifetime. As for the meteors, even a modest shower can provide a thrill, Earthsky.org reminds us.

“Although a somewhat modest shower, these swift-moving meteors are sometimes bright, occasionally leaving a persistent train—a glowing streak that lingers momentarily after the meteor has gone!”

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