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Sat, 18 Oct 2014 - Moon-free skies for Orionid maximum

The Orionid meteor shower shows a broad peak during the period Oct 20-23. Excellent news is that with New Moon occurring on Oct 23 this year, the skies will be moon-free.

Orionid radiant: Despite the shower being named after the constellation of Orion, the area of sky from which Orionid meteors appear to radiate is not within the main pattern of the stars of Orion. It actually lies to the top left of Orion, roughly midway between the main pattern of Orion and the stars of Gemini, as is shown in the chart below:

Note that the Orionid radiant is actually an area of sky a few degress across rather than being a specific point in the sky.

To see the best Orionid rates, don't look directly at the radiant as any Orionid meteors that appear close to the radiant will have short paths against the star background and will therefore be difficult to spot. It is better to choose an area of sky around 30-40 degrees from the radiant and around 50 degrees above the horizon.

An important point to note is that the Orionid radiant doesn't rise above the horizon before around 21h UT (22h BST). Therefore if you are observing before this time, you won't see any Orionid meteors - although you may see a few Taurid and sporadic meteors.

After the Orionid radiant has risen, Orionid rates will start to pick up and will tend to increase as the night progresses. If you are able to stay out observing until late in the night then, from a reasonably dark obsrving site, you are likely to see rates of around 10 Orionids per hour (and a few Taurids and sporadics).

 

Orionids are quite swift meteors and a good percentage leave persistent trains.

Given that it is October, do remember to wrap up well against the cold! We don't want you to miss out on seeing Orionids because you are distracted by the cold. If you are able to observe for a long period, then it is good practice to take a break every couple of hours.

Do report what you see to the SPA Meteor Section:    meteor@popastro.com

The SPA's guide to meteor observing can be found at:

http://www.popastro.com/meteor/observingmeteors/visual/index.php

 

Added by: Tracie Heywood