2017-09-28 / Front Page

Skywatchers can catch glimpses of meteor shower beginning Mon.

While the Comet Halley passed by earth over 30 years ago – last seen in 1986 – and won’t return for another 45 years give or take, mankind is still reaping the benefit as the earth will soon encounter a collection of debris left behind the orbiting mass, which is the production of the Ori­onid meteor shower.

Set to begin on October 2 and continue until November 7, the estimated peak of the Orionids will begin before dawn on October 21. At the peak time, the heaviest shower is projected, and to make it better, of­ficials have reported that there won’t be any moonlight to ruin the view of anticipating onlookers.

The Orionid shower is an annual phenomenon, and has been named because of it appears to radiate from the location of the constellation Orion, a giant huntsman said to be set in place by Zeus himself accord­ing to Greek mythology, making the spray of streaking meteors all the more powerful and magnificent.

According to EarthSky’s Deborah Byrd, “You don’t need to know or be staring toward Orion to see the meteors. The meteors often don’t become visible until they are 30 degrees or so from their radiant point – and remember, they are streaking out from the radiant in all directions. They will appear in all parts of the sky.

“However, if you do see a meteor – and trace its path backward – you might see that it comes from the club of Orion. And, if so, that me­teor will be an Orionid. This year, in 2017, there is no moonlight to ruin the show! You might know Orion’s bright, ruddy star Betelgeuse. The radiant is north of Betelgeuse,” Byrd penned.

Most sky watchers are curious at the actual number of meteors they’ll see if they take the time to venture outside for an extended stint, to which Byrd further responded, “The word shower might give you the idea of a rain shower. But few meteor showers resemble showers of rain. The Orionids are a relatively mod­est shower, offering about 10 to 20 meteors per hour on a dark, moon­less night. In the coming weeks, when we’re nowhere near the peak of the shower, you can count on somewhere from none to a handful after several hours of observing. Even at their peak, meteor showers are more subtle than rain showers, and the Orionid shower isn’t as rich a meteor shower as, for example, the Perseids in August or the Geminids in December.”

For those enthusiastic stargazers who may not want to wait until the shower’s peek, Byrd suggested venturing out before dawn to catch a glimpse of a meteor or two before the biggest wave arrives later next month.

“But Orionids can be very beauti­ful meteors. They’re known to be fast and on the faint side, but can sometimes surprise you with an ex­ceptionally bright meteor – one that would be visible, even on a moonlit night – that might break up into frag­ments,” Byrd added, dismissing any premature disappointment.

The Orionid shower could be considered somewhat of a historical occasion, though appearing yearly as earth re-enters the stream of debris, due to the Comet Halley’s limited reoccurrence, which is projected for every 74-79 years. Experts expect to see Halley again in 2061.

Discovered by English astronomer Edmond Halley, “who examined reports of a comet approaching Earth in 1531, 1607 and 1682. He conclud­ed that these three comets were actu­ally the same comet returning over and over again, and predicted the comet would come again in 1758,” Elizabeth Howell with Space.com wrote. “Halley didn’t live to see the comet’s return, but his discovery led to the comet being named after him. Halley’s calculations showed that at least some comets orbit the sun.”

Because of the great time span between Halley’s visits, most people have only one chance to catch a glimpse of it, however the possibil­ity for laying eyes on the comet twice is still conceivable.

At least, however, the Orionids may be viewed every year.

Courtesy of NASA, a. .live. brad­cast . of the Orionid meteor shower will be. .available .viaUstream.begin­ning .

October 20, at 10 p.m.

According to officials, “the live feed is an alternative for stargazers experiencing bad weather or light- polluted night skies.”

To view the shower online visit www.nasa.gov.

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