How to watch the Orionid meteor shower tonight, in person or…

The Orionid meteor shower will peak tonight, Saturday October 21st, so if you’re lucky enough to have clear skies where you are, you should head out after dark and get your chance to see this famous phenomenon. For this we should look towards the sky.

Meteor showers occur when Earth passes through a cloud of debris, and pieces of that debris pass through the planet’s atmosphere and burn up, causing bright trails of light in the sky. In this case, the debris that Earth will pass through is left over from Halley’s Comet, one of the only known comets that regularly passes by Earth and that can be seen with the naked eye.

The Orionid meteors appear each year when Earth passes through a region of space filled with the debris of Halley's Comet.
The Orionid meteors appear each year when Earth passes through a region of space filled with the debris of Halley’s Comet. NASA/JPL

If you want to see the meteor shower tonight, here’s our advice on how you can watch it in person or online.

The ideal conditions for viewing a meteor shower are to go outside after dark and stay as far away as possible from bright light sources such as cities. You’ll also want to avoid looking at small light sources like your phone as this will affect your night vision. Sit somewhere comfortable and give your eyes about 20 to 30 minutes to adjust to the darkness. As you look up into the sky, if there are no clouds, you should be able to see streaks of light as the meteors arrive, peaking in the hours just before sunrise.

As points out, tonight should be a good time to see the shower because the moon is in its first quarter phase and will set before midnight, which means there should be a better view of the faint light from the meteors . To get the best views, aim for viewing between about 1pm and 5pm and don’t forget to wrap up in warm clothes if you’re going to be out late and sitting for long periods of time.

If the skies are not clear where you live, or if you don’t like braving the cold, another option is to enjoy the event via live stream. Japan’s Subaru Telescope, located on Mauna Kea, Hawaii, will observe the event and share a livestream, which you can watch below:

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