If you can get out of bed, that is. I stepped out into the driveway this morning at 6am on my way to a meeting (a meeting, incidentally, that is actually scheduled for next Friday, but that’s a different matter.) I paused in the driveway long enough to gaze up at Orion and marvel at the splendor of God’s creation. I thought for just a moment that it was clear and dark enough to see a shooting star. And it was then that I thought of Halley’s comet.
As comets travel in their orbits, they’re constantly in a state of degrading, leaving dust and specks of matter behind. This trailing debris of comets like Halley appear to us in the form of shooting stars. Though Halley’s comet only comes around itself for viewing every 76 years, the orbit of Halley’s comet closely approaches the Earth’s orbit at two places. Once in May, creating the Eta Aquarids, and in October, producing the Orionids. This year, we have the fortunate timing of a new moon on the 22nd, meaning the sky should be dark enough for a great view.
According to Space.com, “the best time to watch begins from 1 or 2 a.m. local daylight time until around dawn, when the shower’s radiant (in Orion’s upraised club, just north of the bright red star, Betelegeuse) is highest above the horizon. The higher the radiant, the more meteors appear all over the sky. The Orionids are one of just a handful of known meteor showers that can be observed equally well from both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres.”
[More information about the Orionid Showers and Halley’s Comet]