Bundle up & head outside for spectacular Orionids meteor shower - ABC 33/40 - Birmingham News, Weather, Sports

Bundle up & head outside for the spectacular Orionids meteor shower

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The Orionids meteor shower is going on right now.  The best time to see the annual event will be late Friday, early Saturday.

Here's some information about the Orionids from NASA:

The Orionids come from Halley's Comet. 

Halley's Comet leaves bits of itself behind -- in the form of small conglomerates of dust and ice called meteoroids -- as it moves in its orbit, which the Earth approaches in early May and mid-October. When it does, it collides with these bits of ice and dust, producing a meteor shower as the particles ablate -- or burn up -- many miles above our heads. The May shower is called the Eta Aquarids, as the meteors appear to come from the constellation Aquarius. The October shower has meteors that appear to come from the well-known constellation of Orion the Hunter, hence the name: Orionids.

Orionids move very fast, at a speed of 147,300 miles per hour. At such an enormous speed, the meteors don't last long, burning up very high in the atmosphere. Last year, the NASA allsky cameras at Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., and in Chickamauga, Ga., recorded 43 definite Orionid meteors. Most of these appeared at an altitude of 68 miles and completely burned up by the time they were 60 miles above the ground, seen in the graph at right.

Watching Orionids is easy. Go out into a clear, dark sky after 11 p.m. at night -- your local time -- and lie on a sleeping bag or lawn chair. Look straight up. After a few minutes, your eyes will become dark-adapted, you'll start to see meteors. Any of these that appear to come from Orion will be an Orionid, and therefore represent a piece of Halley's Comet doing its death dive into our atmosphere.