All about this weekend's Orionid Meteor Shower

When to view and where to look
Posted at 9:27 AM, Oct 20, 2017

The Orionid meteor shower will peak over the weekend, and it looks like we should have great viewing conditions for it, especially Friday night into Saturday morning. 

Is this our best viewing chance?

Yes! The meteors, which are part of Halley's comet, can cause fast, bright meteors during much of October. But the nights of Oct. 20 and 21 are the peak part of the event. According to Astronomer Dean Regas at the Cincinnati Observatory, Friday night into Saturday morning from 2 to 5 a.m. is the best viewing chance all weekend.

What tips are there for viewing it?

Darkness is key when trying to watch for meteors. City lights "pollute" your view. So get out away from bright lights and let your eyes adjust for a bit to the darkness. As we mentioned, 2 to 5 a.m. Saturday is the best window of time. 

Is there a better direction to look? 

The meteor shower is called the "Orionid" because the meteors appear to radiate from Orion's belt. Regas says Orion's belt is easy to view in the sky because of the three closely spaced stars.

At 2 a.m., Orion will be in the southeast sky about halfway up according to Regas. It then drifts more to the south by 5 a.m., when it is much higher in the sky.

However, Regas says just look in an eastern or southerly direction and try to take in as much sky as possible. Patience is key!

Orion's Belt

Is the moon going to be too bright and ruin our view?

No. We currently have a "new moon," which means it's not adding any light to the sky.

Do I need binoculars or a telescope?

Nope! Regas says this one is super easy to view. 

To learn more, head to Cincinnati Observatory's website here. Their members are setting up a telescope at Stonelick State Park Saturday night into Sunday morning.