Monday 21 October 2019

The Orionid Meteor Shower.

The Orionid Meteors are a prolific meteor shower appearing between 2 October and 7 November each year and peaking on the nights of 20-22 October, when the shower can produce 50-70 meteors per hour, originating in the constellation of Orion (above and to the right of Orion's right shoulder). This makes them both one of the more prolific meteor showers, and one of the easiest for an amateur enthusiast to locate the radiant of (apparent point of origin).This peak of this year's display falls on the third quarter (the Half Moon after a Full Moon), which is not ideal for viewing, but better than several recent meteor showers that fell close to the Full Moon. The best viewing should be just before dawn on Monday 21 and Tuesday 22 October 2019, from anywhere on Earth.

The radiant of the Orionid Meteors. Stary Night/

The shower is caused by the Earth passing through the trail of Halley's Comet (technically Comet P1/Halley), and encountering dust from the tail of this comet. The dust particles strike the atmosphere at speeds of over 200 000 km per hour, burning up in the upper atmosphere and producing a light show in the process. The Earth does not need to pass close to Halley's Comet for the meteor shower to occur, it simply passes through a trail of dust from the comet's tail that is following the same orbital path. Halley's Comet only visits the Inner Solar System once every 75 years, last doing so in 1986. 

The calculated orbit and position of Comet P1/Halley on 21 October 2019. The Sky Live 3D Solar System Simulator.

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