Orionids Meteor Shower 2012 Peak: Where and When to Watch
Shooting stars will be flying early in the morning, but it promises to be a show worth watching.
The offspring of Halley's comet are about to put on quite a show over the skies of Iowa City.
On the wake of the Perseids meteor shower, Earth passes through a stream of debris from Halley's beginning Oct. 15, which gives us the benefit of the annual Orionids meteor shower, though you probably won't see much until a bit later.
The shower should be at its best the night of Saturday, Oct. 20, until just before dawn on Oct. 21. This year, the moon will be setting at about midnight, so – barring cloud cover –you should be able to see up to 15 meteors per hour.
What makes this shower so cool? First, c'mon – it's a show of shooting stars.
Also, though, there's no question about where to look for this one. Meteor showers get their names from the constellations in the sky where they can be spotted. And what's easier to spot than Orion the Hunter?
The stars tend to shoot from Orion's club, pierce Tauraus the Bull, the Gemini twins, Leo the Lion and then, Canis Major, home of Sirious, the brightest star we can see -- well, aside from the sun.
Something else special about this show: With the second-fastest entry velocity of all the annual meteor showers, meteors from the Orionids produce yellow and green colors and occasionally produce an odd fireball.
Obviously, you'll have more luck catching the shooting stars if you're in a place not polluted by light.
The Iowa City Astronomy Club will be holding a viewing session at Sokum Ridge Park, located about five miles south of Washington, Iowa. This is a county park with no lights around, and it gets really dark at night.