July 24, 2024

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Orionid meteor shower: Watch for meteors in the sky this weekend

Orionid meteor shower: Watch for meteors in the sky this weekend

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If you’re looking for a spectacular show this weekend, look out for the Orionids meteor shower that will shine through Saturday and Sunday night.

The shower is expected to peak at 8 p.m. ET on Sunday, but visible meteors are expected to stream across the sky throughout the weekend at a rate of 10 to 20 per hour, according to EarthSky, and can be seen from around the world overnight.

The best time to spot the meteor would be in the early hours of the morning, when the radiance, or the point from which the meteors appear to shoot — in this case the constellation Orion — is at its highest at around 2 a.m. in any time zone. , but Dr. Ashley King, planetary science researcher The Natural History Museum in London said that meteors will begin to appear as soon as darkness falls.

At the end of this week, the moon will be in the first quarter phase and will set near midnight. According to the American Meteor Society. This means its brightness will interfere slightly with seeing the meteor, King said.

“You’ll want to wait until the moon sets,” he said. “Even if you’re in a city, you should be able to see a few meteors — it’s really just a case of looking at the sky and being patient.”

For the best chance of spotting a meteor, King suggests going outside for at least 10 to 20 minutes before stargazing to allow your eyes to adjust to the low light. If possible, it’s ideal to stay away from light pollution and find a place with a clear view of the dark sky, King said.

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The Orionid meteors come from one of the most famous comets, Halley, which is currently located near the middle of its 76-year orbit around the Sun. While the comet won’t appear in Earth’s night sky until 2061, it leaves behind a trail of debris that our planet passes through every year, giving rise to the Orionids.

In early May, Earth passes through a different section of Halley’s orbital path, resulting in a meteor shower known as Eta Aquaridus.

“What you’re seeing are tiny comet dust grains traveling very quickly,” King said. “When they enter the atmosphere, they heat up and evaporate, and they get that bright streak — that’s what we call a meteor.”

Orionids tend to be bright and fast-moving, at 148,000 miles per hour (238,183 kilometers per hour). According to NASA. Because of this high speed, Orionids often make long trails in the sky, which is visual evidence of the dust emitted by meteorites as they heat up, King said.

Sometimes, meteor showers can have unexpected spikes in meteor rates. From 2006 to 2009, the Orionids saw between 50 and 75 meteors per hour, according to American Meteor Society. Rates are expected to be normal this year, but there is always the possibility of a surprise. the organization notes on its website.

“Not only is it stunning, it’s exciting to see the bright streaks across the sky, which is not something you see every day, but these are dust grains that formed a little over 4.6 billion years ago,” King said. “This is dust from the birth of the solar system.”

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After Orionids peak, the hourly rate of visible meteors will begin to slow until the shower ends on November 22. If you missed the peak this weekend, there are five more meteor showers left to catch this year:

● South Taurides: November 5-6

● Northern revolts: November 11-12

● Leonids: November 17-18

● Gemini: December 13-14

● Ursids: December 21-22

There are three moons remaining in 2023, According to the Farmers’ Almanac:

● October 28: Hunter’s Moon

● November 27: Beaver Moon

● December 26: Cold Moon

Lunar and solar eclipses

On October 14, people across North, Central, and South America were able to see an annular solar eclipse. During this event, the moon passed between the sun and the Earth to form a “ring of fire” in the sky. This was the last solar eclipse event until 2024.

However, a partial lunar eclipse will occur on October 28, and will be visible in Europe, Asia, Australia, parts of North America and much of South Africa. This eclipse occurs when part of the moon passes into the Earth’s shadow, allowing the shadow to appear on the moon for a short period of time.