Crestone Weather Center
Crestone, Colorado
 

 


(photo courtesy of NASA)

 

 

 Orionid Meteor Shower
(posted Oct 15, 2017)

 


Next weekend the annual Orionid meteor shower will be at its peak, on the nights of October 20-21, 2017. Meteors from this shower should become visible about now, but starting late evening on October 20 they should increase, and will probably be most prolific in the few hours before dawn on October 21 and 22. From here in Crestone, you might see a maximum of about 5 to 15 meteors per hour. Fortunately, this month the new moon will occur on Oct 19, so there will be no moonlight to ruin this year’s Orionid meteor shower. The best time to view the Orionids is just after midnight and right before dawn.

The Orionids stem from debris from the most famous of all comets, Comet Halley.. The comet last visited Earth in 1986 and will return next in 2061. As Comet Halley moves through space, it leaves debris in its wake that strikes Earth’s atmosphere most fully around October 20-22, every year. So one may ask, if the meteors originate from Comet Halley, why are they called the Orionids? The answer is that meteors in annual showers are named for the point in our sky from which they appear to radiate. The radiant point for the Orionids is in the direction of the constellation Orion the Hunter. Hence the name.

2017 Major Meteor Showers (Class I)




Shower Activity Period Max Date # per hr* Comet
Quadrantids (QUA) Jan 01-Jan 12 Jan 03 80 -120 2003 EH?
Lyrids (LYR) Apr 18-Apr 25 Apr 22 18 Thatcher
Eta Aquarids (ETA)** Apr 24-May 19 May 07 40 Halley
Delta Aquarids (SDA)** Jul 21-Aug 23 Jul 30 16 96P/Machholz?
Perseids (PER)** Jul 13-Aug 26 Aug 12 60 - 100 Swift-Tuttle
Orionids (ORI) Aug 25-Nov 19 Oct 22 15 Halley
Leonids (LEO) Nov 050-Dec 03 Nov 18 15 Temple-Tuttle
Geminids (GEM) Nov 30-Dec 17 Dec 13 95 - 120 3200 Phaethon?
Ursids (URS) Dec 17-Dec 24 Dec 22 10 8P/Tuttle

*# per hour is for a moonless rural sky/** Strong moonlight will interfere with these showers in 2017

 

There are meteor showers taking place every day/night of the year, but many are hard to see. The meteor showers listed above are the easiest to observe and provide the most activity. Particular attention should be noted to the time and moonlight conditions. All of these showers are best seen after midnight. Some are not even visible until after midnight. Showers that peak with the moon at half or more full will be affected by the moonlight and difficult to observe. While the time each shower is best seen remains much the same year after year, the moonlight conditions change considerably from one year to the next.

Crestone Current Weather Conditions