Orionid meteor shower peaks tonight, could have clouds

Orionid meteor shower peaks tonight, could have clouds
2017's Orionid meteor shower peaks this weekend. But, we could have a few clouds in the way.
2017's Orionid meteor shower peaks this weekend. But, we could have a few clouds in the way.

SOUTH MISSISSIPPI (WLOX) - Tonight, Friday night into Saturday morning, brings the peak of the annual Orionid Meteor Shower. And, unfortunately, South Mississippi's forecast is calling for a chance for a few clouds to possibly block part of the show.

The Orionid meteors get their name from the constellation Orion, the point in the sky from which they seem to originate. These meteors are actually space rocks and debris leftover from Comet Halley which crossed through Earth's orbit back in the 1980s. Each year as Earth passes through these meteors, they burn up in our planet's atmosphere, appearing to some viewers as "shooting stars."

The 2017 Orionid meteor shower is expected to peak on the night of Friday Oct, 20 and the early morning of Saturday, Oct 21 with up to about 10 to 20 meteors per hour.

"This means you may have to be patient to spot a meteor considering the rate boils down to about one meteor every three minutes or less," said WLOX First Alert Meteorologist Wesley Williams.

"And to make matters worse, you may have to wait for some clouds to move out of the way from time to time," Williams continued. "Friday night's forecast calls for partly to mostly cloudy sky over South Mississippi."

If you miss the peak, the show will still go on each night until Oct. 29. But, there could be fewer meteors each night further from peak.

"We'll have fewer clouds after Tuesday of next week," said Williams. "But, there will also be fewer meteors overhead each night."

For those willing to brave the possibility of clouds during tonight's peak, head out away from city lights, look up, and be patient. Timing-wise, some say it is easier to see meteors during the pre-dawn hours (12 am to 6 am) as opposed to the evening hours (6 pm to 12 am). And that's really all there is to it. There is no specific direction to look other than up; whenever an Orionid meteor flies, it can streak across any part of the sky.

"Surely a few folks could catch a nice view in-between the clouds," Williams said. "But, it may just depend on your luck with how the clouds develop tonight."

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