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Wed, 18 Oct 2017 - A nicely timed Orionid maximum

Meteor showers are seen at their best when their peak activity occurs in dark moonless skies. Good news is that will be the case for the 2017 Orionids with New Moon occurring on October 19, just ahead of the peak Orionid spell.

It is also helpful when the peak activity of a meteor shower coincides with it not being necessary to get up for work early the following morning.  For most people, this will be the case when the meteor shower peak occurs at a weekend.  Additional good news is that this the case for the 2017 Orionids.

Activity from the Orionids becomes obvious during the third week of October and lasts into the final week of the month.  In contrast with many other meteor showers that have fairly sharp peaks, meaning that one particular night will produce much higher rates than the surrounding nights, this is not the case for the Orionids. The Orionid peak is quite broad and good rates are likely be seen during the nights of Oct 20-21, 21-22, 22-23 and 23-24.  Thus if you are clouded out during one of the earlier nights, there will still be more chances on the later nights. 

From a reasonably dark observing site, observed hourly meteor rates during these nights are likely to reach double figures in the later part of the night.

A key fact to remember about the Orionids, however, is that the Orionid radiant doesn't rise above the UK horizon until around 10pm BST (21h UT). No Orionids will be seen before this time.  Observed rates will then steadily increase as the night progresses.  Bear in mind also that the Orionid radiant lies between  Orion and Gemini, rather than within the main pattern of Orion itself.  The radiant location for the night of Oct 20 is marked on this chart:

More information about the 2017 Orionids can be found  here

Orionid meteor numbers will be supplemented by sporadic meteor activity and some early activity from the Taurid meteor shower.  A guide to the 2017 Taurids can be found  here

Do let us know what you see. You can email your summary to  meteor@popastro.com

If you see a fireball (mag -3 or brighter), please report it via this easy to use report form http://spa.imo.net/ . This has recently been updated to allow the uploading of images and videos.

As always, aim to choose an observing site that is as dark as possible and which has a clear view of the sky. 

Clear October nights can be rather chilly, so do wrap up well against the cold.  Given that the weather forecast is for a deep low pressure area to bring strong winds across much of the UK this weekend, an observing site sheltered from the wind would clearly be beneficial. 

 

Added by: Tracie Heywood