Orionid meteor shower peaks this weekend

Viewing conditions near perfect from Orlando to Marion County

By Emilee Speck - Digital journalist
Meteor Physics Group, University of West

A 2010 Orionid meteor, seen over Western Ontario, Canada. A waxing gibbous moon shines brightly at the left side of the image.

ORLANDO, Fla. - This weekend, the Orionid meteor shower peaks creating one of the best sky shows of the year.

The Orionids meteor shower happens as Earth passes through a stream of debris from Halley’s Comet around this time every year, Bill Cooke, of NASA's Meteoroid Environment Office, said.

"Bits of comet dust hitting the atmosphere should give us a couple dozen of meteors per hour,” Cooke said.

Experts say the best time to view the meteors is before dawn Saturday, around 3 a.m. The meteors will continue through Sunday morning around the same time. Skygazers can look for the meteors near the Orion constellation.

Those looking to enjoy the light show should try to get outside the downtown Orlando area to avoid light pollution. Next, allow your eyes about 10 to 15 minutes to adjust to the darkness, and then look up.

The closest dark sky park to Orlando – and the only one in Florida -- is the Kissimmee Prairie Preserve State Park, known for its astrophotography opportunities.

Read tips from Seminole State College planetarium director Derek Demeter on how to make the most of your experience if you plan to visit the park for the meteor shower.

Central Florida has the weather on its side for one of the brightest annual meteor showers this year.

The viewing conditions are expected to be near perfect, News 6 chief meteorologist Tom Sorrells said. Some areas on the Space Coast will have cloud cover which could obstruct the view.

“From Orlando to Marion County, all the way to the Gulf Coast, conditions will be partly cloudy to clear,” Sorrells said.

The best part? The overnight low on Saturday is 73 degrees, the perfect temperature for spending some time under the stars.

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