The Orionid meteor shower peaks on Thursday night. Here’s how to watch colorful streaks and fireballs light up the sky.

A man stargazes at Brimham Rocks in Yorkshire as the Orionid meteor shower reaches its peak in October 2018.Danny Lawson / PA Images via Getty Images

On Thursday, the Orionid meteor shower peaks at night, peaking after midnight with about 15 shooting stars per hour.

Colorful streaks and exploding fireballs make this one of the most beautiful meteor showers of the year, according to NASA. Meteors scream through Earth’s atmosphere at 148,000 miles per hour – about 41 miles per second – a speed that causes meteors to burn leaving behind light trails that can linger for several seconds, if not minutes. Some become fireballs that explode with light and color.

The Orionids are visible in both the Northern and Southern Hemisphere, from midnight to dawn. If your local weather is clear, you may be in for a meteor show.

We are traveling through the dust of Halley’s Comet

Halley's comet

Halley’s comet taken by W. Liller, Easter Island, March 8, 1986.NSSDC (NASA) Photo Gallery

The Orionids occur when Earth’s orbit takes it through a lane of space debris left behind by Halley’s Comet. When fragments of the comet the size of a grain of sand, known as meteors, hit our atmosphere almost head-on, they burn, leaving fiery streaks across the sky.

Earth passes through Halley’s wake twice a year, once starting in May and then again in October. Each pass lasts about a month, which is why the resulting meteor showers – the Eta Aquariids in the spring and the Orionids in the fall – last for weeks.

The peak of any rain, however, occurs when our planet moves through the densest part of Halley’s debris trail.

The American Meteor Society predicts that the Orionids will last until November 22, so if you miss the peak on Thursday and Friday there is still time to locate them.

Leave the binoculars at home and don’t stare at Orion

To see as many orionid meteors as possible, find a dark spot as far away from light sources as possible. If you are in the Northern Hemisphere, lie down on the ground or in a lounge chair with your feet facing southeast. In the Southern Hemisphere, point your feet to the northeast. Give yourself the widest possible view of the sky – meteors can appear anywhere.

shooting star of the orionids meteor shower

A meteor passes the constellation Canis Minor in the night sky during the annual Orionid meteor shower in Ronda, near Malaga, Spain on October 22, 2017.Jon Nazca / Reuters

The Orionids are easily visible to the naked eye, but it’s best to let your eyes adjust to the darkness for 30 minutes so you can spot more shooting stars. Avoid looking at the moon or even your phone, as bright light could reset the eye adjustment clock and prevent you from seeing faint meteors.

You can see the shower starting after midnight local time and will continue until dawn.

NASA does not recommend using telescopes or binoculars to visualize a meteor shower, as these instruments only show a limited portion of the sky at a time. Casting a wide view will help you spot more Halley’s streaks of debris.

Stargazer telescope watches meteor shower

A stellar observer waits for light clouds to clear to witness the Perseid meteor shower that begins near Bobcaygeon, Ontario on August 12, 2015.REUTERS / Fred Thornhill

The Orionid rain gets its name from the Orion constellation, which is where the meteors appear to originate in the sky: they appear north of Betelgeuse, the brightest star in the constellation. Orion is identifiable by the trio of stars that form a hunter’s belt. But NASA suggests not staring directly at Orion, since it’s so bright that it will make the meteors appear fainter.

If you don’t see any meteors during this year’s rain, mark your calendar for mid-November, when the Northern Taurid rain is expected to peak.

Read the original article on Business Insider

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