What is it, when is it and where can I see the Orionid Meteor shower this year? 

The Orionid meteor shower will peak 21- 22nd October between midnight and dawn

What is the Orionid meteor shower?

The Orionid meteor shower is one of the best known and most reliable meteor showers in the annual calendar, visible from across the globe.

Some people view the shower as extra special as the meteors are actually pieces of Comet 1P/Halley, famously known as Halley's comet. The famous comet swings by the earth only once every 75 - 76 years but this annual shower provides some compensation for those who may miss that once in a lifetime event. 

As the comet follows its path around the sun, it leaves a path of tiny debris. The cometary debris enters our planet’s atmosphere at speeds of around 41 miles per second, vaporising from friction with the air causing the streaks of light we call meteors. 

Find out the difference between an asteroid, a comet, a meteor, and a meteorite.



When is the Orionid meteor shower?

The Orionids occur in late October each year with a peak around the 22nd.

SHOWER NAME

DATE OF MAXIMUM

NORMAL LIMITS

RATE/HOUR

DESCRIPTION

Orionids

Oct 21 - 22

Oct 16-27

25

Fast with fine trains. Associated with Comet Halley

 

Find out more about other meteors and meteorites around the year

How can I watch the Orionid meteor shower?

Hunting for meteors, like the rest of astronomy, is a waiting game, so it's best to bring a comfy chair to sit on and to wrap up warm as you could be outside for a while. They can be seen with the naked eye so there's no need for binoculars or a telescope, though you will need to allow your eyes to adjust to the dark. The showers will continue at a reduced rate, so if the Moon obscures the peak, you may still be able to catch a few throughout the rest of October. 

Where is best to watch the Orionid meteor shower?

For the best conditions, you want to find a safe location away from street lights and other sources of light pollution. The meteors can be seen in all parts of the sky, so it’s good to be in a wide open space where you can scan the night sky with your eyes. But if you trace the paths that the meteors take, they seem to originate from the constellation of Orion.

If you manage to get any pictures of the Orionids Meteor Shower then we'd love to see them. You can find us on Facebook or Twitter

"For once I was in the right place at the right time"

See more incredible photos like Rob's at the Insight Astronomy Photographer of the Year free exhibition

Image of Shooting Star and Jupiter © Rob Bowes
Shooting Star and Jupiter © Rob Bowes

Orionid facts

Image of Orion constellation
Orion constellation
  • If you trace the path that the meteors take, they seem to originate from a point in the constellation of Orion - hence the name.

 

  • The beautiful streaks we see in the night sky can actually be caused by particles as small as a grain of sand!

 

  • The cometary debris enters our planet’s atmosphere at speeds of around 41 miles per second.

 

  • The meteor shower of 2016 was somewhat spoiled by moonlight. The shower peaked on October 20, with the waning gibbous moon (more than half of its surface illuminated) obscurring the view for many skywatchers.