Even if you're a casual stargazer, you probably have heard of the Orionids. The October spectacle is one of the more consistent meteor showers of the year, and it's easy to view no matter where in the world you are. If you plan on catching the event in 2021, here's all the information you need.
What is the Orionid meteor shower?
The Orionids are a byproduct of Halley's Comet. As Earth passes through the comet's tail, space rocks burn up in the planet's atmosphere, creating a dazzling shooting star effect. While Haley's Comet only appears in the night sky every 74 to 76 years, the Orionids are much more frequent, occurring every year in October.
The shower gets its name from Orion. When the meteors streak across the sky, they appear to originate from the constellation. On peak nights, the Orionids produce up to 20 shooting stars per hour.
How to See the Orionids in 2021
In 2021, the Orionid meteor shower peaks the night of Wednesday, October 20 and the early morning of Thursday, October 21. The pre-dawn hours on Thursday would normally be your best shot at seeing the spectacle, but you may be out of luck this year. A full moon will brighten the skies throughout the night, reducing the visibility of any shooting stars that occur.
Fortunately, that night isn't the only time to see the Orionids. The shower will be active from October 2 to November 7. Instead of trying to catch the meteors at their peak, look up a few nights before or after October 20 and the 21st when the moon is slightly dimmer. That should increase your chances of spotting at least a few shooting stars from Halley's Comet.