The Orionid meteor shower will peak between Oct. 21 and Oct. 22 and will remain active until early November.
Viewing conditions for the Orionids are favorable this year with relatively little moonlight getting in the way of spotting the streaking meteors. Sometimes the Orionid meteor shower produces spectacular displays of up to 80 meteors an hour, but in recent years it has produced more modest displays of about 20 or 30 visible meteors per hour.
The meteors that streak across the sky are some of the fastest among meteor showers because Earth is hitting the stream of particles from Halley's Comet almost head-on.
Where can you see the Orionid meteor shower?(opens in new tab)
Right ascension: 5 hours
Declination: 5 degrees
Visible between: Latitudes 85 and minus 75 degrees
The Orionids are visible to skywatchers in both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres (weather permitting of course).
Meteor showers are named after the constellation from which the meteors appear to emanate, known as the radiant. From Earth's perspective, the Orionid meteor shower appears to come approximately from the direction of the Orion constellation.
Orion is located on the celestial equator and is visible throughout the world. If you are in the Northern Hemisphere, Orion is located in the southwestern sky and if you are in the Southern Hemisphere it is visible in the northwestern sky. The three bright stars Alnilam, Mintaka and Alnitak that form Orion's belt are the easiest to spot.
Don't look directly at Orion to find meteors, as the shooting stars will be visible throughout the sky. Make sure to move your gaze around the nearby constellations as meteors closer to the radiant have shorter trains (glowing trails of debris) and are more difficult to spot. If you only look at Orion you might miss the more spectacular Orionids.(opens in new tab)
To best see the Orionid meteor shower, go to the darkest possible location, lean back and relax. You don't need equipment like telescopes or binoculars as the secret is to take in as much sky as possible and allow about 30 minutes for your eyes to adjust to the dark.
If you want more advice on photographing the Orionids, check out our how-to photograph meteors and meteor showers guide. If you need imaging gear, consider our best cameras for astrophotography and the best lenses for astrophotography.(opens in new tab)
When is the best time to view the Orionid meteor shower?
The best time to view the Orionid meteor shower is between midnight and dawn when the shower's radiant, the Orion constellation, is high in the sky.
The Orionids are active from Oct. 2 until Nov. 7 according to timeanddate (opens in new tab) and will peak between Oct. 21 and Oct. 22.
This year, the new moon on Oct. 25 will provide dark skies that are perfect for meteor hunting. To calculate sunrise and moonrise times in your location check out this custom sunrise-sunset calculator (opens in new tab).
What causes the Orionid meteor shower?(opens in new tab)
The Orionids are caused by the debris of ice and dust left behind by Halley's Comet when it passes through the solar system. According to the UK Meteor Network (opens in new tab), the meteors we see today come from debris left by Halley's Comet hundreds of years ago as the current orbit of the comet doesn't bring it close enough to Earth to produce meteors.
When Earth passes through the comet debris, the "comet crumbs" heat up as they enter Earth's atmosphere producing impressive "shooting stars" that streak across the sky.
Halley's Comet takes about 76 years to orbit the sun once and will not enter the solar system again until 2061.
The comet is named after English astronomer Edmond Halley who examined reports of comets approaching Earth in 1531, 1607 and 1682. He concluded that these sightings were all of the same comet returning over and over again. Halley predicted the comet would return in 1758. Though he did not live to see the comet's correctly-predicted return, it was later named in his honor.
Editor's note: If you snap a great photo of an Orionid meteor or any other night sky sight you'd like to share with Space.com and our news partners for a story or image gallery, send images and comments in to: email@example.com (opens in new tab).
Have you seen a fireball recently? Report the sighting (opens in new tab) to the American Meteor Society to help contribute to fireball research. Explore the historical significance of Halley's Comet and the Battle of Hastings with this NASA feature (opens in new tab). Take a tour of meteors and meteorites through history on this Google Arts & Culture feature (opens in new tab) courtesy of Adler Planetarium.
Bailey, D. 2022 Orionid Meteor Shower. UK Meteor Network. Retrieved October 6, 2022, from https://ukmeteornetwork.co.uk/showers/2022-orionids/ (opens in new tab)
NASA. Leonids. NASA. Retrieved October 6, 2022, from https://solarsystem.nasa.gov/asteroids-comets-and-meteors/meteors-and-meteorites/leonids/in-depth/ (opens in new tab)
NASA. Orionids. NASA. Retrieved October 6, 2022, from https://solarsystem.nasa.gov/asteroids-comets-and-meteors/meteors-and-meteorites/orionids/in-depth/ (opens in new tab)
Orionids meteor shower 2022. timeanddateRetrieved October 6, 2022, from https://www.timeanddate.com/astronomy/meteor-shower/orionid.html (opens in new tab)