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2014 Orionid meteor shower

Illustration image

Debris from Halley's comet (pictured above) causes the annual Orionid metoer shower.

NASA/ESA/Max-Planck-Institute for Solar System Research

The 2014 Orionid meteor shower will peak on October 20 and October 21. An almost new Moon will make make for good conditions to view the shower.

The Orionid meteor shower, is one of the two meteor showers associated with the Comet Halley. The shower is called Orionids because the meteors seem to emerge or radiate from the constellation Orion.

The Orionids tend to be active annually for the month of October and usually peak around October 20 and October 21. At its peak, people can view about 20 meteors an hour.

The Eta Aquarids in May is the second meteor shower created by the debris left by Comet Halley. Halley takes around 76 years to make a complete revolution around the Sun. The next time, it will be visisble from Earth will be in 2061.

The Draconids also occur in October. They usually peak around October 7 and October 8.


Where to view

The Orionids can be seen by viewers from both hemispheres.

While it is not necessary to look in a particular direction to enjoy a meteor shower – just lay down on the ground and look directly above and you are bound to see some meteors – astronomers suggest that observers in the Northern Hemisphere look towards the southeastern sky, while those in the Southern Hemisphere look at the northeastern sky.

When to view

The best time to view the Orionids is just after midnight and right before dusk.

How to view

There isn’t a lot of skill involved in watching a meteor shower. Here are some tips on how to maximize your time looking for the Orionids:

  • Get out of the city to a place where city and artificial lights do not impede your viewing
  • If you are out viewing the shower during its peak, you will not need any special equipment. You should be able to see the shower with your naked eyes.
  • Carry a blanket or a comfortable chair with you - viewing meteors, just like any other kind of star gazing is a waiting game, and you need to be comfortable. Plus, you may not want to leave until you can’t see the majestic celestial fireworks anymore.
  • Check the weather and moonrise and moonset timings for your location before you leave, and plan your viewing around it.

Location in the sky

The Orionid meteor shower is not visible at this time of year. The best date is around Oct 20, 2014, table below is for that date:
Orionid meteor shower for Washington DC (Night between Oct 20 and Oct 21)
TimeAzimuth/
Direction
Altitude
Mon 11:00 PM73°East-northeast3.3°
Midnight Mon-Tue82°East14.6°
Tue 1:00 AM92°East26.3°
Tue 2:00 AM102°East-southeast37.9°
Tue 3:00 AM115°East-southeast49.0°
Tue 4:00 AM133°Southeast58.7°
Tue 5:00 AM161°South-southeast65.1°
Tue 6:00 AM196°South-southwest65.3°
Note: times are for Oct 20, 2014.
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