The Orionids 2024: Where & When To See the Meteor Shower In October?
Meet the Orionids — one of the fastest and most prolific meteor showers of the year! Orionid meteors are rapid, so the phrase “blink and you'll miss it” fits them pretty well. In this article, we’ll explain why this stargazing event is truly worth looking for in the night sky!
- What is the Orionid meteor shower?
- Where and when can I see the Orionid meteor shower?
- The Orionid meteor shower 2024: the key takeaway
What is the Orionid meteor shower?
Orionids are considered a major meteor shower. They are active from October 2 to November 7, producing their peak rates of meteors around October 21. On this day, the average number of meteors is approximately 20 per hour, which is more than any other meteor showers of October and even November produce.
Meteor shower in Orion
The radiant point of the Orionids is located in the constellation Orion, to the north of the bright star Betelgeuse. However, Orionid meteors can appear all over the sky, flying at the speed of 66 kilometers per second. In comparison, the speed of the Perseid meteors is 59 kilometers per second. Orionid meteors aren’t the fastest, but they keep their place at the top of the list.
Meteor shower from Halley's comet
The Orionids are caused by ice and dust debris left by the comet 1P/Halley. It is known as the only naked-eye comet that can be seen twice in a human lifetime. 1P/Halley is a short-period comet that completes an orbit once in 75-76 years. Next time, the comet will return to the inner Solar System in 2061. Apart from the Orionids, Halley’s Comet produces the Eta Aquariid meteor shower, which peaks on May 5-6.
Learn more about the origin of meteor showers in our short educational video.
Where and when can I see the Orionid meteor shower?
You might think: should I even try to hunt for these meteors if they’re so fast? Yes, you should! Some of these meteors leave glowing “trains” that are incandescent bits of debris in the wake of the meteors. Those “trains” can last from a few seconds up to a minute, creating a spectacular picture in the sky for observers from the Earth. Fast Orionids can also sometimes become fireballs — meteors that appear brighter than any of the stars and planets. By the way, if you see a fireball during your meteor hunt – report it to the American Meteor Society to contribute to fireball research.
Orionid meteor shower: where to look
The Orionids are observable in both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres. Look for the Orionids from 45 to 90 degrees away from the radiant (in the constellation Orion). From this perspective, they appear more glowy and longer than if you’d look directly at a radiant point.
To find the radiant point, use the Star Walk 2 or Sky Tonight app: open one of the apps and type “Orionids” in the search field, then choose the fitting result, and the app will show you where the Orionids’ radiant point is located on the sky map. To see the location of the Orionids’ radiant point right now, point your device to the sky, and the app’s image will adjust to the sky above you.
Best time to view the Orionid meteor shower 2024
The peak activity of the meteor shower occurs between midnight and dawn on October 21. This year, the peak happens alongside the 83%-illuminated Moon. The Moon shines in the Taurus constellation, right beside Orion, where the meteor shower radiates from. Unfortunately, the moonlight is likely to obscure most of the meteors. Nevertheless, you can attempt to spot a few meteors around 2 a.m. local time, when the meteor shower’s radiant reaches its highest point in the sky.
To avoid missing the Orionids’ peak, set a reminder for the event. You can do it with the Sky Tonight app — a helpful tool for meteor lovers. Open the app, tap the magnifier icon in the lower-left corner of the screen, and type “Orionid peak” in the search field. Flexible search will show you all related events — tap and hold the blue time below the name of the corresponding search result. Customize and set the reminder, and you definitely won’t forget about the shooting stars!
Orionids viewing tips
While observing the Orionids, look for prolonged explosions of light that these meteors produce in the sky. But be patient — you’ll need about 20 minutes to adapt to the dark and start to see meteors. Use only your eyes to watch the sky. Binoculars or telescopes won’t make your observation better, as they are designed to see more stationary objects.
Prepare your sleeping bags, blankets, or lawn chair, take a thermos full of hot tea or coffee, and start your stargazing night. Consider this spectacular astronomy event as a perfect chance to get outdoors and spend some time away from the busy city.
The Orionid meteor shower 2024: the key takeaway
The Orionids will reach their peak activity between midnight and dawn on October 21. Unfortunately, in 2024, the Orionids will be tricky to observe due to the 83%-illuminated Moon, which will obscure the view. However, it's still the richest meteor shower in October, with up to 20 meteors per hour, so try to spot some! To locate the meteor shower’s radiant point, use our apps Star Walk 2 and Sky Tonight. And don’t hesitate to share your experience and pictures with us on social media, we’ll be happy to know how many Orionid meteors you caught.
Learn about other shooting stars this month from the article on October meteor showers. There you’ll find the dates, moon illumination, observation forecasts, and more.
Wishing you clear skies and happy stargazing!