Orionids Meteor Shower Hits Its Peak

  • Oct 20, 2013 3:37pm GMT

The annual Orionid meteor shower hits its peak tonight (Sunday, October 20th) around midnight and continues until dawn. The Orionid meteors are considered to be among the best celestial displays, known for both their brightness and speed. Traveling at speeds up to 148,000mph, these meteors tend to leave a bright trail in their wake.

While the nearly full moon will make it more difficult to see the meteor showers, the fireball quality of the meteors should still make them visible to the naked eye. Picking a viewing spot away from city lights will provide better opportunities for maximum results.

Best viewing will be towards the southeast if viewed from the Northern Hemisphere, and towards the northeast if viewed from the Southern Hemisphere.

The Orionids originate from the dust and comet debris left by Comet Halley (pictured above) during its once-every-76-year transit around the sun. Each year in mid-October, the Earth's orbit passes through the trail left by Comet Halley.

NASA has further details on the Orionids meteor shower here.

Photo credit NASA/ESA