Monday, October 18, 2010

Be Sure To Look For The Meteor Shower This Week

A spectacular stream of meteors believed to be leftovers from Halley's Comet is expected to streak across the skies this week, but a full harvest moon will compete for attention and may obstruct some of the show.

The meteors, a junior version of the famous Perseid meteor shower, are called the Orionids because they appear to shoot from the second-brightest star in the Orion constellation, or from the hunter's elbow. Up to 30 meteors -- fast, bright streaks like shooting stars -- could be visible each hour in the night sky, starting tonight, reports.

"The Orionids are fast meteors and also have fireballs. The radiant of the shower will be observed north of Betelgeuse, the brightest star in the constellation Orion, the Mighty Hunter," Graciano Yumul, an officer at the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration, told GMA News.

The shower's radiant point is near the celestial equator, meaning that it'll be visible in both the northern and southern hemispheres, according to iSurf News.

The annual show usually happens from Oct. 17 to Oct. 25, and this year it'll peak before dawn on Thursday. But that's also when a full moon will appear over North America, in most places on Saturday, perhaps dimming the light of the meteors. So the best viewing times are believed to be earlier in the week, when the moon isn't as bright. The best places from which to view the meteor shower are in rural spots that don't have other light pollution.

The Orionids are thought be caused by Halley's Comet, which was named for astronomer Edmond Halley and passes through the inner solar system once every 76 years. The last time was in 1986.

But every time Halley's Comet zooms past the sun, bits of ice and rock are evaporated off the comet and go flying into space. The debris hangs there in space and create the annual Orionid display.

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