The Orionid meteor shower is the talk of the social media and the World Wide Web this weekend because it promises to be a spectacular event. If your travel plans caught you somewhere in Eastern Europe, or simply if you live in this part of the world, here are some of the best places to watch the skies at night from today until Sunday, October 22, 2017.
The Orionid meteor shower reaches its best viewing this weekend. The meteors lighting up the night skies come from Halley’s Comet, (0fficially Comet 1P/Halley), which passes by the Earth every 75 to 76 years. The comet can be seen in May and the Orionid meteor shower is visible in October and November.
Orionid meteors are visible from anywhere on Earth with the naked eye
Since Orionid meteors are visible from anywhere on Earth, you will not have any problems observing the spectacle in Eastern Europe if the skies are clear. Visibility is also significantly reduced in cities with bright city lights. So plan a weekend escape to a place with high hills or mountains to catch the best places for the night show.
Orionid meteors take their name from their relative position in the sky, which is near the Orion constellation. But according to NASA meteor expert Bill Cooke, to see the meteors you should look away from Orion, “because meteors close to the radiant have short trails and are harder to see.”
The best time to see the Orionid meteor shower is late at night, way after midnight, as the show peaks at 2 am.
“The Orionids peak on October 20, a dark, moonless night. Look near Orion’s club in the hours before dawn and you may see up to 10 to 15 meteors per hour,” explains Jane Houston Jones, Educational outreach, science writer and podcaster at NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
You do not need binoculars or a telescope to observe the event, as the meteor shower is visible with the naked eye. If the weather forecast is good, you can choose any national park close to your current location, a forest, a quiet mountain village, the beach, or just your favorite park. Bundle up, the weather is cold at night in October. This can be such a romantic activity to do as a couple. We suggest you pack a thermos with hot coffee or tea to sip during the show to keep you warm.
Orion appears in folklore all over Eastern Europe. In Hungarian tradition, he is Íjász (the Archer), Kaszás (the Reaper), or Nimród. His belt is known as Bírópálca, the Judge’s stick.
Featured Orion image by Mouser (Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0) via Wikimedia Commons