The Orionid Meteor Shower Peaks This Weekend

iStock/Kazushi_Inagaki
iStock/Kazushi_Inagaki

October is always a great month for skywatching. If you missed the Draconids, the first meteor shower of the month, don't despair: the Orionids peak this weekend. If you've ever wanted to get into skywatching, this is your chance.

The Orionids is the second of two meteor showers caused by the debris field left by the comet Halley. (The other is the Eta Aquarids, which appear in May.) The showers are named for the constellation Orion, from which they seem to originate.

The shower is expected to peak overnight from Sunday, October 21, to Monday, October 22, when you can plan to see 15 to 20 super-fast meteors per hour. The best time for viewing is between 2 a.m. and 5 a.m., when Orion appears completely above the horizon. Make a late-night picnic of the occasion, because it takes about an hour for your eyes to adjust to the darkness. Bring a blanket and a bottle of wine, lay out and take in the open skies, and let nature do the rest.

There's a chance that the Moon might interfere with the meteors' visibility, according to Space.com. Leading up to its full state on October 24, the Moon will be in a waxing gibbous phase, becoming larger and brighter in the sky as the Orionids speed past Earth. Limiting light pollution where you can—such as by avoiding city lights—will help.

If clouds interfere with your Orionids experience, don't fret. There will be another meteor shower, the Leonids, in November, and the greatest of them all in December: the Geminids.

A version of this story appeared in 2017.

Celebrate the Holidays With the 2020 Harry Potter Funko Pop Advent Calendar

Funko
Funko

Though the main book series and movie franchise are long over, the Wizarding World of Harry Potter remains in the spotlight as one of the most popular properties in pop-culture. The folks at Funko definitely know this, and every year the company releases a new Advent calendar based on the popular series so fans can count down to the holidays with their favorite characters.

SIGN UP TODAY: Get exclusive deals, product news, reviews and more with the Mental Floss Smart Shopping Newsletter!

Right now, you can pre-order the 2020 edition of Funko's popular Harry Potter Advent calendar, and if you do it through Amazon, you'll even get it on sale for 33 percent off, bringing the price down from $60 to just $40.

Funko Pop!/Amazon

Over the course of the holiday season, the Advent calendar allows you to count down the days until Christmas, starting on December 1, by opening one of the tiny, numbered doors on the appropriate day. Each door is filled with a surprise Pocket Pop! figurine—but outside of the trio of Harry, Hermione, and Ron, the company isn't revealing who you'll be getting just yet.

Calendars will start shipping on October 15, but if you want a head start, go to Amazon to pre-order yours at a discount.

This article contains affiliate links to products selected by our editors. Mental Floss may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.

Space Hero, a New Reality Show, Wants to Send You to the International Space Station

The ultimate ocean-view getaway.
The ultimate ocean-view getaway.

One lucky astronomy enthusiast may soon have the chance to see space without committing to a massive career change. As Travel + Leisure reports, an upcoming reality show called Space Hero is looking to send a civilian to the International Space Station (ISS).

You won’t need a degree in astrophysics or decades of engineering experience to enter, but a passion for space exploration is a must. The series will reportedly follow a group of contestants as they compete in challenges that reflect what actual astronauts have to go through, and viewers might get to vote for their favorite participant. The winner will then spend 10 days aboard the International Space Station, and the rest of us will watch it all unfold from home.

The series is a collaboration between a space media company called Space Hero Inc. and Axiom Space, the private aerospace company founded by NASA’s former ISS program manager Mike Suffredini. Axiom will oversee all the space-related elements of the show, from training the contestants to planning the journey itself, which is tentatively scheduled for 2023. As for how the winner will get to the ISS, they’ll likely be aboard one of SpaceX’s Dragon rockets.

Plenty of details are still up in the air. We don’t yet know, for example, how people can apply or audition for a spot on the show, who will host it, or where we can watch it. According to Deadline, it’s meant to be a worldwide phenomenon: Producers intend to hold an international search for contestants and broadcast the series across the globe.

While you’re waiting to find out how to toss your space helmet in the ring, here are 17 odd things we’ve sent to space.

[h/t Travel + Leisure]