2015 Orionid Meteor Shower

2015 Orionid Meteor Shower

This year’s Orionids will probably peak on the morning of October 21 or 22, 2015.  You might ask why is the date not definite. That is part of the fun in watching meteors.  They are unpredictable. Sometimes there can be quite a surprise should Earth’s path cross a particularly heavy patch of comet dust trail. The Orionid meteors are debris from Comet Halley’s travels into the Inner Solar System on its path around the Sun. Annually some of this debris is captured by Earth’s gravity and it falls through the Earth’s atmosphere burning brightly from the heat of friction with air molecules. The color of the light depends on the minerals involved:  Orange-yellow (sodium), Yellow (iron), Blue-green (magnesium), Violet (calcium), Red (atmospheric nitrogen and oxygen), etc. The speed of the meteors depends on the direction in relation to Earth’s direction of movement. The Orionid Meteors appear to emanate from near the constellation Orion. Betelgeuse is the brightest star nearest the Orion Radiant. You do not need to know the radiant to see the meteors. They often do not become visible until 30 degrees past their radiant. Give your eyes 20 minutes to get used to the dark. Find a location away from lights with a wide open viewing area. The meteors may appear anywhere in the sky , making group viewing particularly helpful.  Group members can survey different parts of the sky and call, “Meteor,” when one is spotted. There are no plans at this time to offer public 2015 Orionid Meteor viewing at the Amateur Astronomers Association of Pittsburgh (AAAP) Observatories. AAAP will hold two more regularly scheduled 2015 Star Parties: Wagman Observatory Mid-Autumn Star Party on November 7, 2015 and Mingo Observatory Bundle Up Star Fest on November 14, 2015.

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Orionids
Comet of Origin: 1P/Halley
Radiant: Just to the north of constellation Orion’s bright star Betelgeuse
Active: Oct. 4-Nov. 14, 2015
Peak Activity: Oct. 21-22, 2015
Peak Activity Meteor Count: 20 meteors per hour
Meteor Velocity: 41 miles (66 kilometers) per secondNotes: The Orionids, formed from the debris of Halley’s comet, are known for being bright and quick.

Best viewing will be pre-dawn

Source: https://www.nasa.gov/jpl/asteroids/best-meteor-showers/#.ViOth8tvSCk

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Meteor Outlook for October from the American Meteor Society: http://www.amsmeteors.org/2015/10/meteor-activity-outlook-for-october-17-23-2015/

Remember this video is from 2012, which was predicted to be an especially good year. 2015 is a favorable year and the information provided in the 2012 video is largely applicable and informative. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_zy4DVdfdsw 

Orionid Meteor Shower 2012 – Full Show from NASA 21-10-2012 Sunday Dawn – Day 2

 

Updates and additional astronomy and AAAP information on AAAP’s Facebook Page.

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Respectfully submitted, Kathy DeSantis.
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