21 October, 2017
Friday night, the sky is expected to light up again in a cosmic fireworks show as the Earth passes through a field of meteoroids. You do not need a telescope to watch the meteors streaking across the entire sky.
The Orionid meteor shower will peak over the weekend and it looks like we should have great viewing conditions for it, especially tonight.
The space show is called Orionids because it originates above the star constellation of Orion the Hunter. "This famous comet swings by Earth every 75 to 76 years, and as the icy comet makes its way around the sun, it leaves behind a trail of comet crumbs". When the Earth's orbit intersects the debris left by the come, it burns up in our atmosphere at an exhilarating speed of around 66 kilometres per second. Plus, the moon won't be around, so the sky will be nice and dark.
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Uranus is in full opposition on Thursday, meaning it's directly opposite the sun. Instead, as NASA notes, "It is actually better to view the Orionids from 45 to 90 degrees away from the radiant". It's sort of like sitting in the middle of a set of parallel stripes converging far away-distances look differently depending on which stripe you look at. It will be toward the bottom of the Pisces "v".
Environment Canada is calling for a clear sky tonight, but if it turns out that isn't the case where you live, or there is too much light pollution, NASA will be broadcasting the celestial event via Upstream tonight starting at 7 p.m.
Venus and Mars rise just before the sun this week. "Those in the city are most likely to only see the brighter meteors, not the fainter ones".