Orionid meteor shower peaks next few nights.
The last time Halley’s Comet visited the inner solar system was in 1986, but we’ll be able to see some pieces of it this week in the form of meteors.
Halley’s Comet, probably the most famous comet, was named after it’s discoverer Edmund Halley.
The comet circles the sun once every 76 years. As comets get closer to the Sun, they shed material – dust, ice and other small pieces of debris.
Those pieces of debris are left behind in space and twice a year, the Earth passes through this debris (in the spring, the Eta-Aquariads are visible).
The debris is usually pretty small, about the size of a grain of sand, but some larger chunks are sometimes left behind.
When those tiny pieces of comets hit the Earth’s atmosphere, they burn up and appear as a streak of light which can be a shooting star or meteor.
The tiny pieces of space rock will appear to come from the constellation Orion. That’s where the “Orionids” get their name. Orion will rise in the east around 9PM, but the meteors will be easier to see later in the night. Although they’ll appear to come from the east-southeast, they could be seen streaking across the entire sky.
Be sure to find a dark sky away from city lights and just look up!
Of course, we’ll need clear skies to see the Orionids.
Here’s the latest hour-by-hour forecast.
Halley’s Comet will be visible again in 2061, but we’ll be able to see pieces of it twice a year…every October and again every May.
— Meteorologist T.J. Del Santo