You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to myPalmBeachPost.com

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.

GREAT REASONS TO SUBSCRIBE TODAY!

  • IN-DEPTH REPORTING
  • INTERACTIVE STORYTELLING
  • NEW TOPICS & COVERAGE
  • ePAPER
X

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and bonus content- exclusively for subscribers. Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks

X

Welcome to myPalmBeachPost.com

This subscriber-only site gives you exclusive access to breaking news, in-depth coverage, exclusive interactives and bonus content.

You can read free articles of your choice a month that are only available on myPalmBeachPost.com.

Orionid meteor shower peaks this week


The legendary celestial hunter Orion lends his name to a modest but noteworthy meteor shower that peaks this week in predawn darkness.

While the Orionid shower runs from about Oct. 4 to Nov. 14, the heavenly show is most robust on Friday and Saturday morning, when the greatest number of meteors will slip into Earth’s atmosphere.

During the peak, 10 to 20 Orionids per hour should be visible. The Orionids are significant because although they are named for the Greek hero Orion, they are actually rock and ice shed from what may be the only cosmic snowball of frozen gas, rock and ice to gain widespread notoriety — Halley’s Comet.

And they are viewable twice each year. .

In May, the Earth also runs through the detritus of Halley’s Comet, creating the Eta Aquariid meteor shower.

“Over the ages, Halley’s Comet has shed bits and particles, and when we go through the streams, we get a meteor shower,” said Alan MacRobert, senior editor of Sky and Telescope magazine. “This is the only well-recognized semi-major shower that we do twice a year.”

Halley’s Comet was discovered by Edmund Halley in 1705, but is believed to have been recognized for millennia. NASA says the comet is featured in the Bayeux tapestry — an embroidered cloth that depicts the Battle of Hastings in 1066.

The comet returns every 72 years and was last seen from Earth in 1986. It won’t come again until 2061.

“It’s the first comet astronomers figured out was returning over and over again,” MacRobert said. “In many of its returns, it is large and bright and attracts a lot of attention.”

Orion is the namesake for the Orionids because they appear to radiate from north of Betelgeuse, one of the constellation’s most well-known stars. You don’t have to stare at Orion to see a meteor; they will be visible in all parts of the sky.

This year the peak of the Orionids will be overshadowed somewhat by the bright light of the waning gibbous moon.

But the skies should be mostly clear Friday morning, with the National Weather Service in Miami forecasting minimal sky cover and only a 10 percent chance of rain. Saturday morning will have more clouds getting in the way of viewing the Orionids, but still only a 10 percent chance of rain.

Deborah Byrd, editor in chief at the astronomy website Earth and Sky, said that while Orionid meteors may not be as plentiful as other showers, they can be surprisingly bright.

“Particles shed by the comet slam into our upper atmosphere where they vaporize at some 100 kilometers — 60 miles — above the Earth’s surface,” Byrd wrote in her astronomy blog. “Maybe half of the Orionid meteors leave persistent trains — ionized gas trails that last for a few seconds after the meteor itself is gone.”

MacRobert cautioned that people shouldn’t expect a fireworks show out of the Orionids.

“It’s not that major of a shower and this year there is moonlight, which will tend to wipe out all but the very brightest meteors,” he said. “So be very patient, lie back in a lawn chair and keep the moon out your vision.”



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Nation & World

Chipotle investigating credit card data breach
Chipotle investigating credit card data breach

Chipotle Mexican Grill is investigating a data breach in its payment processing system after reporting a sharp increase in sales. The fast-casual restaurant said it recently detected unauthorized activity on its network that supports the payment system. Chipotle said the transactions occurred from March 24 to April 18, and the company believes...
United unveils 10 policy changes, will pay bumped passengers up to $10,000
United unveils 10 policy changes, will pay bumped passengers up to $10,000

United Airlines has announced 10 policy changes after a video of passenger David Dao being dragged off a plane went viral earlier this month. In what may be the biggest change, the airline will now offer travelers as much as $10,000 to relinquish their seats on overbooked flights, up from $1,350, according to Bloomberg. In a Thursday news...
Dad learns to walk again for his daughters' sake after doctors said he was paralyzed
Dad learns to walk again for his daughters' sake after doctors said he was paralyzed

Seven months after doctors told him he’d never be able to use his legs again, a man stood up and walked out of a rehabilitation center with his two young daughters at his side. Cole Thomas, of Rochelle, Illinois, told “Today” that he shattered a vertebra in a September 2016 car crash. “I realized I was hurt very badly,&rdquo...
Disney workers ask company to fight for 500 Haitian refugees
Disney workers ask company to fight for 500 Haitian refugees

Union representatives speaking on behalf of 500 Haitian refugees working as Disney cast members in Central Florida are asking CEO Bob Iger to fight for them to stay in the U.S. The group is part of 50,000 refugees from the island nation who are living in the U.S. following the earthquake that ravaged the country in 2010. President Barack Obama gave...
Facebook Live video leads to suspect in woman's death
Facebook Live video leads to suspect in woman's death

A Facebook Live video led police to a suspect in the December 2016 death of a woman in a Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, neighborhood.  Isaiah Booker, 23, of Homestead, was charged Tuesday with criminal homicide, criminal attempted homicide, aggravated assault and persons not to possess a firearm.  The charges stem from the shooting death of 25-year-old...
More Stories