2023 has been quite the year for sky-gazing enthusiasts and amateur astronomy lovers. After getting a rare sighting of a stunning Blue Moon, a rare Green Comet and a Harvest Moon just last month, another celestial spectacle is about to treat us this weekend and it is supposed to be most beautiful of them all. The Orionid meteor shower will reach its peak this weekend which means that around 10-20 meteors could be visible in the night sky each hour. Find out everything you need to know about the stunning event including when, where and how you can see it in Australia.
Orionid meteor shower, 2023
The Orionid meteor shower is more commonly referred to as Orionids and it is one of two meteor showers created by Comet IP/Halley, also known as Halley’s Comet. The comet is only visible to Earth every 76 years, however, Earth will pass through the very centre of the comet’s dust resulting in a striking celestial show.
According to NASA, Orionid meteors are famed for their brightness and speed as they travel at around 148,000 mph into Earth’s atmosphere leaving a glowing train that can last from anywhere between a few seconds to minutes. NASA also refers to this shower as one of the most beautiful of the year, flanked by “some of the brightest stars in the night sky” and creating “fireballs” or bright explosions of light. Halley’s Comet will not return until 2061 but the Orionids are here every October making this an annual event.
When is the best time to see the Orionid meteor shower?
The meteor shower will reach its peak on the nights of October 21 and 22 and the best time to see it will be the early hours of the morning, around 2am to 5am. The shower is expected to last until dawn or when the sun rises and under ideal weather conditions, you will have plenty of time to enjoy the show.
How can you see the meteor shower?
According to EarthSky, it’s best to find a wide, open viewing area, away from the city and NASA recommends facing in a northeast direction in the Southern Hemisphere. You don’t need any special equipment to view the meteors, just give your eyes time to adapt to the darkness and you should be able to view some meteors. From a dark location with no moon, up to 10 to 20 meteors per hour may be visible.
The shower is said to be particularly brilliant this year, so don’t miss out. Read all about the Orionid meteor shower on the NASA website.