Orionid meteor shower is here: What is it, how can you watch it? - explainer

Published date04 October 2022
Publication titleJerusalem Post, The: Web Edition Articles (Israel)
The Orionid meteor shower itself started in 2022 on October 2 and are set to continue through to around November 7. However, this year they are set to peak on October 21

Here is what you need to know about the Orionids, the vibrant autumn meteor shower.

Where does the Orionid meteor shower come from?

The Orionid meteors seem to always be centered from the constellation Orion, its radiant point. To be specific, NASA has specified that its radiant point is just north of Betelgeuse, the brightest star in the Orion constellation.

Whenever the constellation is above the horizon, the Orionid meteors can be visible, and the higher in the sky the constellation is, the more meteors you'll be able to see.

Despite this seeming connection to the Orion constellation, which helped give the meteor shower its name, the Orionids don't actually come from there.

Like all meteors, the Orionids have their origin from a much larger cosmic body like a comet or asteroid. In particular, the Orionids originate from what is likely the most famous comet of them all, 1P/Halley, otherwise known as Halley's comet.

This comet, which passes the Earth every 75-79 years, is famous for being the only comet whose pass can regularly be seen with the naked eye without the need for telescopes.

But as Halley passes through the Solar System, the icy comet is effected by the Sun, which causes some icy rock fragments to break off and even pass through the atmosphere of Earth.

This, in turn, is what are meteors, specifically a meteor shower.

Halley's comet is also suspected of creating another meteor shower, the Eta Aquariids, but this is still debated.

Can the Orionids meteor shower destroy the Earth?

The idea of meteors can conjure up images of apocalyptic scenarios where devastation rains down upon the Earth from the unforgiving cosmos.

But really, meteor showers are not only 100% safe, they're also absolutely stunning.

This is because these meteors are so small that they burn up safely in the atmosphere in bright fiery balls, creating a beautiful and mesmerizing visual display in the night sky.

This is aided by how fast the Orionid meteors fly, clocking in at around 66 kilometers per second, or around 237,600 kilometers per hour or over 192 times the speed of sound. That's just two thirds the speed of lightning.

In other words...

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