Friday, October 21, 2011

I spy a meteor shower!

If you can bear the chilly early Saturday morning temperatures in the 40s in central Virginia (and get yourself out of bed extra early in the first place!), then you could see one of the most reliable meteor showers of the year, the Orionids. Every year, the Earth in its orbit around the Sun passes through the debris left behind by Halley's Comet. At its peak early Saturday, October 22nd, you can expect to see about 15 meteors flashing across the sky per hour. Here's a sky map guide from NASA:

(A map of the morning sky on Saturday, Oct. 22nd at 5:30 a.m. local time, viewed facing southeast. Credit: NASA)

If you're in doubt, just look to the upper right of the Moon, and that should get you in the general direction of the meteors.

Stargazing tips:
  • Bring blankets and extra layers to stay warm!
  • Allow your eyes at least 15-20 minutes to adjust to the night sky to properly pick out the meteors entering the Earth's atmosphere.
  • Be patient! With a meteor rate of just 15 meteors per hour, you may go a while without seeing anything flashing across the night sky (other than airplanes).
  • Take snacks and water. You could be out there for a few hours watching the show.
  • Best viewing window will be from 1AM through Dawn Saturday, October 22.
Click here to track the meteor count live!
--Meteorologist Carrie Rose