This weekend, stargazers will be able to witness a rare celestial event that is visible from earth every 75 years. The Orionid meteor shower, considered to be some of the brightest and fastest, will streak across the sky in full glory. Although it happens each year in October, the showers will peak this weekend. The reason? The Earth will hit these stream of particles nearly head-on, as per Space.com. When the Earth’s orbit comes into contact with the debris of the meteor, it sizzles up in our atmosphere at a speed of approximately 66 kilometres per second. The next sighting will be in 2061.
But given the smog levels in India post-Diwali, you may not be able to see it. The air quality in Delhi on Diwali was reported to be at ‘severe’ and ‘hazardous’ levels in many parts of the city. Mumbai and Chennai also showed pollution levels at a high a day after Diwali.
What is the Orionid meteor shower?
Every year in October, particles from Comet 1P/Halley, popularly knows as Halley’s Comet, come into contact with the Earth’s atmosphere as it burns up, leaving behind a trail of crumbs. Earth’s orbit around the sun, at certain times of the year, crosses paths with this meteor’s debris. They get their name after the constellation Orion (The Hunter). Orionid meteors materialise each year around this time when the Earth travels through an area cluttered with the debris of Halley’s Comet. Some of the meteors fly past at speeds of up to 238,000 km/h, as per Space.com.
When will it happen?
They are visible from anywhere on earth. Try to spot the showers during the early hours of October 20-22.
How to view it?
The Orionid meteor shower is best seen away from city lights as light pollution will hinder the viewing. Some brighter ones maybe visible, but the fainter comets may pass unnoticed. Get up before dawn and watch the celestial event in the darkest hours for best results. The shooting stars can be seen with the naked eye as you don’t need a telescope. A telescope won’t necessarily improve the viewing experience as it is designed to focus on stationary objects in the sky.