BOSTON (CBS) – Perhaps you may have heard there are a few showers in the weekend forecast. Yes, there will be a few rain showers early on Saturday, but those aren’t the showers we are talking about! The headline this weekend is a different kind of shower – a meteor shower!
The Orionid Meteor shower is set to peak this weekend. First, a little background on the Orionids. These meteors are actually leftover debris from the famous Halley’s Comet! A few times each year, the earth passes through the comet’s dusty debris field. Both the Aquarids (in May) and Orionids are actually tiny comet crumbs left behind from the last time Halley’s Comet passed through our corner of the solar system.
OK, cool, so how do we see these shooting stars you ask? Well, the Orionids radiate from the direction of the constellation Orion (hence the name). Unfortunately, the best chance to view Orion and the Orionids is around 2 a.m.
So, in order to get the best show possible, you need to be a bit of a night owl. Find a wide-open space without any artificial light pollution, lie back and look up towards Orion (to the east-southeast). And BE PATIENT! Peak will come early this Sunday morning (again after midnight) and at best you might see 15-20 meteors per hour. If you aren’t interested in staying up that late, you can still catch a few meteors earlier in the evening or for that matter in the nights leading up to or following the peak on Sunday.
BUT, and that is purposely a big but, we have a few things working against us this weekend…first off there is a waxing gibbous moon (moonlight tends to washout the brightness of the shooting stars). Perhaps an even bigger factor is the weather. With a cold front passing through Saturday night, there will be some clouds around. Thankfully we are not forecasting completely overcast conditions, but there will tend to be patches of clouds here and there across Southern New England.
Clearly we are going to need a little help from Mother Nature, but if you are persistent and patient I am confident that you will be able to catch a few meteors at some point this weekend.
And if you are able to catch some video or pictures, we would love to see them! Send them along to firstname.lastname@example.org
Follow Terry on Twitter @TerryWBZ