Uranus, Orionids to light up weekend sky

Muriel Hammond
October 20, 2017

As the comet moves through space, it leaves debris in its wake that strikes Earth's atmosphere most fully around October 20-22, each year. The combined pressures of sunlight and the solar wind blow the gaseous vapors away from the snowball, forming the comet's graceful, flowing tail.

Of all the annual showers that decorate our night skies, the Orionids have the distinction of being near the top of NASA's most lovely list, thanks to its lucky placement among some of the most brilliant stars visible to the human eye. After a comet has made numerous trips around the Sun, its orbit can fill up with dusty debris, like a river of dust particles in space. The Orionids happen every year, right around October 21.

"The Orionid meteor shower is very reliable, plus the number of shooting stars it produces has been increasing in the past few years", museum researcher Lee Chin (李瑾) said. The three-day old crescent moon will set early Friday evening, leaving the sky nice and dark for meteor watching Saturday morning. "Meteors in annual showers are named for the point in our sky from which they appear to radiate", according to EarthSky's Deborah Byrd. We start to see Orionid meteors during late October when Earth moves into the debris path of the Halley comet. You'll want a jacket or sweatshirt early on, but you will not need it for long. This is because the Earth rotates us more in the direction of Orion as we approach sunrise.

You don't have to stare at Orion to see a meteor; they will be visible in all parts of the sky.

This is the most famous comet on the astronomical calendar because it's visible to the naked eye and also because it can be seen twice in a human lifetime thanks to its appearance in our skies every 74 to 79 years. His Celestial News column appears in the Steamboat Today newspaper monthly.

Other reports by

Discuss This Article