(meteorobs) Orionid Meteor Shower

While everyone is talking about a possible outburst from the Leonids
this year don't forget the dependable Orionids. This major annual shower
produces rates averaging 10-20 meteors per hour at maximum. The best
activity usually occurs on morning of the 21st or 22nd of October but
can occur as early as the 18th or as late as the 25th. This year the
moon is new on the 20th and will not interfere at all with watching the

The Orionids are the inbound particles from Halley's Comet. Although the
comet is now long gone material has spread around its entire orbit so
that meteor displays are visible every year at this time. During the
week of maximum activity the radiant lies on the Orion-Gemini border
northeast of the bright orange star Betelgeuse. Meteors from this shower
are swift, faster than the Perseids of August. Although most Orionids
are faint there are occasions when fireballs are produced. Most of these
fireballs are brightly colored and leave behind persistent trains. Since
most shower members are faint this shower is poorly observed from home
in the suburbs. A good dark sky showing the winter Milky Way is needed
to see this shower in all its glory. The Orionids become active after
11pm local daylight time and are best seen at 5am (LDT) when Orion
stands upright on the meridian. Orionid meteors can be seen during the
entire month of October and through the first week of November but in
much lesser numbers away from the period of maximum activity.

Observers are urged to watch in one hour increments and to report the
number of Orionids and the number of sporadics (random meteors) seen. It
is also very helpful to estimate the limiting magnitude near the center
of your field of view at least once an hour so that your personal sky
conditions can be factored. A good web site for learning to estimate
LM's is at http://www.seds.org/billa/lm/

It is also important to note any hills, trees, or clouds that block your
field of view while observing. It is also enjoyable to also try to
record the magnitude of each meteor, color, speed 1(slow) to 5(fast),
and any persistent train that is seen after the meteor has vanished. 

Clear skies and be sure to let us know what you saw!

Bob Lunsford