Orionid meteor shower to peak this weekend as clear skies provide millions with ideal view
By Brian Lada, AccuWeather meteorologist and staff writer
October 21, 2017, 7:06:51 PM EDT
Sunday morning will offer another opportunity to view one of the best meteor showers of the fall with over a dozen meteors streaking across the night sky every hour.
Clear skies will bring excellent viewing conditions for those across the eastern United States while clouds, rain and wildfire smoke obscure the shower for some areas in the western and central U.S.
The Orionids is an annual meteor shower that is caused by debris left behind by Halley’s Comet burning up in Earth’s atmosphere.
“The shower will produce somewhere between 10 and 20 meteors per hour,” AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist and Astronomy Blogger Dave Samuhel said.
“The best viewing in the Northern Hemisphere will be after midnight,“ Samuhel added.
This year will be a particularly good year for viewing the Orionids as the peak of the shower falls just days after the new moon, meaning there will be little natural light pollution for the shower to compete with.
However, light pollution from cities and towns can wash out some of the dimmer meteors, reducing the number of meteors people can see from these areas.
On Sunday morning, viewing conditions are going to be excellent across the mid-Atlantic with mainly clear skies.
While conditions will remain excellent over most of the Southwest, patchy clouds may interrupt star gazing in part of the East. Fair conditions are expected across the Southeast.
Clouds and rain will prevent viewing the meteor shower over much of the Missisisppi Valley and the Northwest Sunday morning.
“It is best to allow your eyes to adjust to the darkness for a full 45 minutes, to achieve prime night vision,” Samuhel said.
There will be a few more opportunities for people to view a meteor shower this year if they miss the one this weekend, including the Geminids in December, which is one of the best meteor showers of the entire year.
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