Stay up late and watch the skies light up tonight. After Friday night's washout with rains and thunderstorms, the skies will be clear and ripe for viewing the annual Orionids meteor shower.
The shower should be at its peak the night of Saturday, Oct. 20, until just before dawn on Oct. 21. This year, the moon will be setting at approximately midnight, which will keep the sky darkened enough that—barring cloud cover—you should be able to see up to 15 meteors per hour.
The offspring of Halley's Comet, the meteors, are about to put on quite a show in the skies of Tiverton and Little Compton.
Earth began to pass through a stream of debris from Halley's Comet beginning Oct. 15, which gives haven't noticed much up until tonight.
What makes this shower so cool? First of all, c'mon—it's a show of shooting stars.
Also, though, there's no question about where to look for this one. Meteor showers get their names from the constellations in the sky where they can be spotted. And what's easier to spot than Orion the Hunter?
The stars tend to shoot from Orion's club, pierce Taurus the Bull, the Gemini twins, Leo the Lion and finally, Canis Major, home of Sirius, the brightest star we can see—well, aside from the sun.
There's also something else that's special about this show: With the second-fastest entry velocity of all the annual meteor showers, meteors from the Orionids produce yellow and green colors and occasionally produce an odd fireball.
To make sure you get the best view possible, remember to check the weather forecast and conditions before you head outside to watch. Also try to get far away from city or neighborhood lights. The darker the viewing ground, the more you will benefit.
So, everyone knows how to spot Orion, right?
It's okay if you don't. The easiest way to find Orion is to go outside in the evening and look in the southwest sky. You are looking for three bright stars close together in an almost-straight line. These three stars represent Orion's belt. The two bright stars to the north are his shoulders and the two to the south are his feet.
Make sure this time you have your sights set on the right spot for a glimpse at the universe moving around us.
Where do you think is the best viewing spot to watch the shower in Tiverton and Little Compton tonight? Tell us in the comments below.