The Orionids meteor shower will peak tonight before slowing fading away over the coming days. Skygazers who want to catch the action can head out tonight after midnight anywhere in the US — assuming there aren’t any clouds where you’re located — to see the bright streaks whizzing by. Some people may get lucky and spot ‘fireballs’ resulting from the explosion of particularly fast meteors.
When you think of meteor showers, there’s a good chance you’re imaging the Orionids. These meteors originate from Halley’s Comet, dazzling the night sky every autumn in the US. The meteor shower officially started on October 2 and will last through November 7, but the best time to see it is during mid-October — and this year, the peak is tonight.
Assuming the sky is moonless and you live somewhere without ample light pollution, you can expect to spot around 15 meteors every hour, according to NASA. These bits of comet debris are whizzing by quickly at around 148,000 mph, resulting in long bright streaks that may be visible for anywhere from seconds to minutes.
If you want to see the meteor shower yourself tonight, NASA has some suggestions: get away from city lights and find a place without clouds. Bundle up in warm clothing and head outside after midnight. Spend 30 minutes outside in the dark and be sure not to look at your phone during that time — it will take a while for your eyes to fully adjust to the dark environment, which is necessary for spotting the streaking meteors.
You’ll be able to catch these meteors in the hours after midnight leading all the way up through dawn. If you’re located in a city, however, where light pollution is coming from everything from street lamps to stores, the meteors may appear too faint to adequately see.