The Orionid meteor shower, associated with the debris of Halley’s comet, is all set to make its comeback on Friday. It has been reported that if the sky is clear, one could see up to 25 shooting stars an hour, travelling at around 41 miles per second.
However, reports suggest that the moon’s brightness could overshadow the meteor’s show on Friday night. Speaking to The New York Times, an astronomer from NASA’s Meteoroid Environment Office, Bill Cooke, highlighted the moon’s effect on the meteor shower. “Turns out tonight the moon will park itself very close to the Orionid radiant and completely wash out the Orionid meteors,” said Cooke. Stargazers would not need a telescope to witness the meteor shower.
The Orionid, which derives its name from the Orion constellation, is an annual occurrence which happens when the Earth passes the area in space covered with debris of Halley’s comet. According to NASA, the celestial fireworks will be visible on October 21 and 22.
In India, people could tune into the live streaming of the night sky from NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center which has been made available via Ustream. It is scheduled to start 10 pm EDT (7:30 am IST on Saturday). The live feed is also an alternative for stargazers experiencing bad weather or light-polluted night skies.
Along with the Orionids, one would be able to see the “Dog Star” Sirius, constellations like Orion, Gemini, and Taurus, and the planets Jupiter and Venus. Those who miss it could wait till November for the next meteor shower which is the the Leonids.
Meteors or meteroids are space rocks that enter the Earth’s atmosphere from time to time. While doing so, the rock becomes extremely hot and so when it falls towards the Earth, the glowing hot air leaves behind a bright streak leading to the creation of ‘shooting star’. Meteor shower refers to the phenomenon when the Earth encounters several meteoroids.