In the first hours of Wednesday, October 21, 2020, the planet Earth will be immersed in a trail of dust and debris left in the inner solar system by the most famous comet.
Did you see Halley’s Comet when it last appeared in the solar system in 1986? Also known as 1P / Halley, the next term will take place in our area in 40 years.
It is believed that this is the only comet with the naked eye that can appear twice in a lifetime. Unlike comet NEOWISE, which has not returned for 7,000 years.
It is also responsible for two annual meteor showers, one of which peaks this coming week – the Orion meteor shower.
Here’s everything you need to know about when to look, where to look, and what you’ll see when you go outside to look for shooting stars this week.
What is the Orionian meteor shower?
This is an annual meteor shower of medium strength, which occurs between October 2 and November 7, 2020. Expect a peak night between 10-20 “shooting stars” moving at a speed of 67 km / s. It’s very fast. although Orionids tend to be long, visible trains—Gap in the sky that can be seen for a second or so.
When is the Orionian meteor shower?
The peak – when the greatest activity is expected – will occur in the first hours of Wednesday, October 21, 2020. At that time, the new moon will be lit by 23%, so just a crescent moon, therefore, should not be a big problem. The key time to watch is a few hours before dawn, according to EarthSky.
Of course, you can take a risk and look long before midnight – and you may well notice some shooting stars – but the main activity will take place when the sky is darkest.
Why is it called the Orion meteor shower?
Although they were caused by Halley’s Comet, the Orionians got their name from their obvious place of origin, their change point. It is within the constellation of Orion, which rises in the east around midnight.
More precisely, it is close to Betelgeuse, but “shooting stars” can appear anywhere in the night sky.
Where is Halley’s Comet now?
You won’t see Halley’s Comet until 2061, so don’t worry about looking – it’s a path, a path that is too dim – but know that its current position is in the constellation Hydra, the water snake. This is a complex constellation that can be seen in its entirety, but if you look at the constellation of Orion as you wait for the shooting stars, look east and Hydra will rise.
So, although Halley’s Comet is not close to us at all now – in fact, it is outside the orbit of Neptune – it is hidden there in the same field of view as the radial point of the Orionids.
Who was Edmond Halley?
An English astronomer born in 1656, Edmond Halley used Isaac Newton’s theories of gravity and planetary motion to calculate the orbits of comets. He predicted that comets would not just make one trip through the solar system, but could make many return trips.
Based on reports of a bright comet visible in the night sky in 1532, 1607 and 1682, he predicted that it was the same comet and that it would return to the inner solar system in 1758.
He was dead right, and not in one – he died in 1742, before seeing how his work came to an end.
What other meteor shower does Halley’s Comet cause?
Garbage from Halley’s Comet causes an Orionid meteor shower, but it also causes an Eta Aquarids meteor shower in May. This is because it deposits meteoroids in the Earth’s orbital path both on its way and out of the solar system. The Earth crosses the path of Halley’s Comet around the Sun twice a year.
The Eta Aquarids meteor shower, known for its fast-moving meteors at about 10-20 per hour at peak times, will occur between April 19 and May 28, 2021, and peak at night on May 5, 2021.
When is the next meteor shower?
The next major meteor shower is Leonids, which will peak in the early hours of November 17, 2020 in a dark moonless sky. Expect about 15 fleeting “shooting stars” per hour for the Leonid meteor shower in 2020.
However, the one to prepare for is the Gemini meteor shower, the best of the year, which will peak in early December 14, 2020 and unleash up to 120 shooting stars per hour – and just hours before the precious total solar eclipse. .
I wish you a clear sky and open eyes.