Orionid Meteor Shower 2020

Comet Halley is a prolific parent, matriarch responsible for the Eta-Aquarid meteors in May and October’s Orionid meteor shower. Every year between October 2 and November 7, Earth orbit encounters a elongated debris trail cast off by Halley – we know it as the Orionid meteor shower. This year Orionids peak the morning of October 21st.

Mountains with numerous thin white streaks in deep blue starry sky.

Composite photo of Orionid meteors over Montana in 2018, via John Ashley.

Orionid abhors flamboyance, preferring to stay the course with 10 -20 exclamations an hour radiating from constellation Orion. Orionid makes up for paltry frequency with dizzying speed ( 66 kilometers per second ) and roughly half the meteors leaving characteristic ionized trails lingering for several seconds in night skies.

Star chart showing radiant point of Orionids.

The Orionids radiate from a point near the upraised Club of the constellation Orion the Hunter. The bright star near the radiant point is Betelgeuse.

Constellation Orion is the radiant point, but meteors can appear over a wide angle view of dark skies. This year a waxing crescent moon delivers dark skies, ideal for Orionid watching. Best viewed between midnight and dawn.

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