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Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Upcoming Event: Orionid Meteor Shower 09


The Orionid meteor shower is expected to reach peak activity this year on October 21st, 2009. This meteor shower comes from Halley's Comet, since like most comets, it leaves a dusty trail as it orbits the sun. The particles in this trail eventually become meteors as they burn up in our atmosphere.

The Orionids have been producing rather bright meteors in the recent past, so it should be a good show. The shower reached a maximum of only 20-30 meteors per hour last year, but is still a worthwhile observing event! This is because the Orionids typically are very colorful meteors, sometimes being yellow or green, and sometimes even producing fireballs called bolides. Also, this year's shower will be perfectly timed with a very thin crescent Moon, so the views of the meteors won't be impeded by moonlight!

When and Where Should I Look?


As usual, the best time to observe a meteor shower is during the early morning hours, around 2-5 AM. This is because as the Earth rotates into the sunlight, we are moving into the meteor field. This increases the number of meteors entering our atmosphere over any given location. Of course, not everone wants to stay up that late, so if you don't plan on doing so, start watching for the meteors at local dusk, and they'll really start to pick up towards 11 PM or midnight. The Orionids have a very broad peak, so any night during the week of October 18th to October 24th will work for obesrving.

To find the direction you should look, simply find the constellation Orion. It is one of the most recognizable constellations in the sky, mostly due to the 3 bright stars that make up his belt. Look for three stars in a straight line somewhere between SW and SE depending on the time. There will also be an hourglass shape along with this "belt". This will be the direction that the meteors will appear to come from. Click for information on finding Orion and objects in it.

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If you have any observations, pictures, or videos, submit them here.

Clear skies!

32 comments:

Lisa said...

Great blog! Was checking on the date of the Orionid meteor shower and your blog came up at the top, since I want to include it in next week's Mental Monday...Astronomy, Space, and Science news at my website. I've been an amateur astronomer for 23 years this summer, was a YSU student in my younger days. Love Astronomy, I’m out almost every clear night, although I live across the street from a church, and the priest there has added so many lights the past few years I have practically no dark sky left. I’ll definitely be checking your blog again.

Sean Welton said...

Thanks!

What a small world, to run into another YSU student! What are the odds! :)

Sean

October 12, 2008 at 11:53 PM

Anonymous said...

Nice post.

Any ideas where I can get latitude info for the shower etc??

Thanks

Anonymous said...

Yes, I would also appreciate azimuth and elevation info on where the shower radiates from. I am in the Black Hills of South Dakota and will have excellent viewing conditions, weather permitting.

Sean Welton said...

The RA/DEC coordinates for the radiant would be: RA 06h20m, Dec +16. To find the object's altitude and azimuth, you need to know your latitude and longitude, then do a bit of math: this page explains that math, which although complicated, can be done on most calculators.

I believe the computer program Stellarium should be able to help you simulate the situation easily, too.

Clear skies!

October 11, 2009 at 8:30 PM

Anonymous said...

The only problem with Stellarium is that it does not inform you of a shower. Stellarium is a good program though.

Does anybody know what time it will happen = AM or PM ?

Providing that the sky is clear lol

Sean Welton said...

Being that the Orionids have such a broad peak, it is not as important that you are out for the exact "peak" of the shower. Actually, the Orinonids peak is so broad and irregular it makes forecasting the time of the peak very difficult. Basically, around 2 AM is typically the best time to view the shower, on October 21st. I haven't seen an exact time on the peak yet, and the IMO website seems to be not working currently, but I will let you know if I do.

Clear skies!

October 18, 2009 at 3:03 PM

Anonymous said...

Very much appreciated thank you very much.
I have been trying for hours to find this info but no luck until now.

I stay in North Scotland so it is more a question of if the sky will be clear.

The moon is next to the sun and will set at the same time so the light from the gibbous moon will not be a problem on Wednesday.

Anonymous said...

HA! problem solved, It is raining...again.
Maybe I will have better luck with the Taurids on the 3rd Nov.....

Sean Welton said...

Sounds kind of like my luck with events like this! ;)

October 20, 2009 at 8:04 AM

Anonymous said...

It's a shame about the weather.
Can't win them all Sean.

Even if the Taurids are hidden there is always the Leonids 17 & 18 Nov.... luck pending ;p

Anonymous said...

clear skies here! im going to get new contacts tomorrow and set out tomorrow night for a good show.

Anonymous said...

WOW ! I don't have a clear night until next week !

Anonymous said...

Dang! Overcast. . .

Anonymous said...

The Nephilim are coming!!

Anonymous said...

hi" my name is sid i live in fresno ca. and spend alot of time in selma ca. and saw a piece of the comet burn out was also a audio if intrested let me know

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