The annual Orionid meteor shower peaks this week, but a full moon could make viewing it a bit tricky.
Meteor showers are named for the constellations from where they appear to originate. In this case, the meteors radiate from the constellation Orion.
According to the American Meteor Society, the Orionids are active from September to November. However, the peak is in October. This year, the Orionids will peak on Wednesday and Thursday night.
"In a normal year the Orionids produce 10-20 shower members at maximum," the society writes on its website. "In exceptional years, such as 2006-2009, the peak rates were on par with the Perseids (50-75 per hour). Recent displays have produced low to average displays of this shower."
Cloud cover will likely prevent viewing across the Pacific Northwest, as well as parts of the Northern and Central Rocky Mountains. Areas around the Great Lakes and the Southeast Coast will also have lots of clouds.
A bright full moon will make viewing the somewhat dim Orionids difficult in places where cloud cover isn’t an issue.
How to watch
To view this meteor shower NASA recommends the following:
- Find an area far away from city or street lights.
- Lie flat on the ground with your feet pointed southeast if you’re in the Northern Hemisphere and northeast if you’re in the Southern Hemisphere.
- Give your eyes about 30 minutes to adjust to the dark.
"Be patient -- the show will last until dawn, so you have plenty of time to catch a glimpse," NASA wrote on its website.
The Orionids are the result of Earth traveling through the cosmic debris trail left by Halley’s comet.