Hoosiers watching the annual Orionid meteor shower Friday night should have excellent visibility. The National Weather Service is forecasting mostly clear skies and temperatures in the low 50s for the shower’s peak on Friday.
The shower seen on earth is made up of remnants of the tail end of the famed Halley’s Comet, which passes close to Earth every 75 years.
“Remember when you were a little kid, and you were running through the sprinkler?” says Kimberly McCauley from the Link Observatory Space Science Institute. “Well, that’s basically what Earth is doing, but with debris – with space debris.”
McCauley says meteor particles can fly through space at up to 150,000 miles per hour and can be as small as a single grain of sand.
“It’s because of the speed and the light that it’s giving off, that we can see it,” she says. “It’s pretty crazy.”
The Orionids are named after the constellation Orion, because the shower can be seen in that area of the sky each year.
McCauley says stargazers have to stay up late to get the best show.
“And Orion, actually, is most visible at two o’clock in the morning, which is the best viewing time for everybody tonight.”
McCauley says about 30 meteors per hour will be visible during peak hours this weekend. For the best visibility, she suggests heading away from city lights.