The Earth is once again passing through the debris left behind by Halley’s Comet, producing the Orionid meteors that peak this weekend. Go outside! Look at space!
The Orionids produce a shower annually, peaking at around 20 to 25 meteors per hour. As with all meteor showers, they’re named for the constellation they appear to stem from in the sky, Orion in this case (or more accurately, on the border of Orion and Gemini. You should care because space is great.
Meteoroids are pebble-sized bits of space debris that become meteors when they flash as they enter the Earth’s atmosphere. They can streak across the sky with average speeds around 150,000 mph according to Space.com. They’re called meteorites once they hit the ground.
As with any shower, it’s best to look a little further away from Orion—this will make the meteors you do manage to spot look longer.
— EarthSky (@earthskyscience) 20 October 2017
Meteors in a shower all originate from the same place in the sky and generally fall parallel to one another. It’s sort of like sitting in the middle of a set of parallel stripes converging far away—distances look differently depending on which stripe you look at. As for Halley’s comet, that iconic chunk of ice and rock won’t be visiting Earth again until 2061.
If you head out late at night, the Moon should have set before the best part of the show—generally between midnight and sunrise, according to the American Meteor Society. If you don’t feel like going outside or it’s cloudy, the Slooh online telescope will be broadcasting it (you have to register).