Stargazers throughout the United States can catch the Orionids streaking through the sky this week. Considered one of "most beautiful meteor showers of the year" by NASA, the Orionids are expected to peak Monday night into Tuesday morning.
What are the Orionids?
The Orionid meteor shower appears every October when the Earth travels through an area of space littered with debris from Halley's Comet. The meteors are known for their brightness and speed, traveling at a rate of 148,000 miles per hour.
The meteor shower gets its name from the constellation Orion. Orion isn't the source of the meteor shower, but is its radiant — the point in the sky from which the Orionids appear to originate.
The meteor shower is typically active from October 2 until November 7, and there will be optimal viewing conditions this week if weather conditions cooperate.
When and where to watch the Orionids
The Orionids are viewable in the northern and southern hemispheres, and the entire U.S. can catch the celestial show during the hours after midnight. Space.com reports the meteors are at their best during the predawn hours around 5 a.m. Sky watchers should be able to see between 10 to 20 meteors per hour at maximum during its peak.
There will be some interference from moonlight, as the moon will be nearly half full on the night of October 21 to October 22, according to the American Meteorological Society. If you miss it Tuesday, early Wednesday can also be another favorable viewing opportunity.
To watch the Orionids, you'll need to be away from bright city lights and allow your eyes up to 30 minutes to get accustomed to the dark. NASA says if you lie down, have your feet point southeast if you are in the Northern Hemisphere or northeast if you are in the Southern Hemisphere. EarthSky has compiled a list of locations nationwide that can help with your viewing experience.
If you'd rather watch online, Stonehenge's year-round camera is offering a view of the Orinoids in a live stream from 7 p.m. to 12 a.m. ET.