Hunter’s moon to outshine Orionid meteor shower

Moonlight could lessen the number of streaks seen in the sky for gazers

meteor shower image. (CNN)

Florida – Two really cool things happen in the sky at night this week. If you didn’t see the full Hunter’s moon don’t worry, it will still look full through Thursday night.

This poses a problem for those that want to check out the Orionid meteor shower which is expected to pre-dawn Thursday.

In order to see the most incandescent streaks in the sky at night it needs to be as dark as possible.

NASA photo capturing an Orionid meteor shower. (NASA/Jimmy Westlake)

For best viewing, it’s recommended to be away from city lights which make it harder to see the meteor shower. No equipment other than your eyes is needed to see the spectacle. Just allow your eyes to adjust to the darkness and sit back and enjoy.

During the peak of the Orionid Meteor shower, normally 20 meteors per hour can be seen flying at speeds up to 148,000 mph leaving a blazing streak in the atmosphere. The problem is the moon. The Hunter’s moon will still be near full emitting a lot of light into the night’s sky. This could lessen the amount of blazing white streaks seen in the sky which are part of Halley’s Comet colliding with the Earth’s atmosphere as it passes through the comet debris field.

Meteor falls over Southeast Georgia Sunday night

Halley’s Comet swings around every 76 years or so and then leaves the debris field behind which Earth passes through at certain times of the year while orbiting the sun. The last time Halley’s Comet was seen in the Earth’s sky was in 1986 and is expected to return in 2061 as part of its journey around the sun. Until then the debris field provides us here on Earth with beautiful meteor showers.

Don’t be discouraged. Some of the meteors will still be visible, it just won’t be a huge display. The best bet will be to sit in a moon shadow like a tree or a car which helps limit the moonlight from the viewing point.

Where and when to look

Between midnight and dawn are the best times to see the Orionid meteors. These meteors radiate in the direction of the Orion the Hunter constellation which can be seen after midnight ascending in the eastern sky. If you can locate the star Betelgeuse, the radiated area will be to the north. Hard time finding this area? Not to worry. The great thing about meteors, they streak all over the sky.


About the Author:

Emmy Award Winning Meteorologist Samara Cokinos joined the News 6 team in September 2017. In her free time, she loves running and being outside.