The Orionid Meteor Shower peaks this weekend and once again Aussies will be able to enjoy the celestial light show with their naked eyes. If you're keen to catch the Orionid Meteor Shower over the weekend, here's what you need to know.
Orionid Meteor Shower Australia
This year's shower is expected to produce at least 20 meteors per hour. We also have a favourable moon phase to help with viewing. Provided that the clouds play nice (always a dicey proposition), it's expected to be one of the better meteor showers of the year. Hurrah!
Orionid Meteor Shower start time in Australia
The Orionid Meteor Shower occurs between early October and mid-November. The peak is expected to occur on Monday morning October 22, at around 3-5am. Unless you enjoy pulling all-nighters, we advise setting your alarm clock rather than staying up.
For optimum viewing conditions, it's best to wait until the moon has fully set. This year, the Moon will be in its waxing gibbous phase during the shower's peak which should result in a darker skyline: perfect for meteor viewing. Here are the ideal viewing times in Australia's capital cities, according to the Weekend Notes website:
In Brisbane, the moon will set at 3:40 am and the sun will rise at 5:06 am. So you should get a good hour or more of meteor shower watching in before the sky becomes too light. The largest concentration of shooting stars will be in the northern sky at this time.
In Sydney, the moon will go below the horizon at 4:52 am and the sun will rise at 6:06 am. Daylight savings will definitely make getting out of bed early to watch shooting stars easier.
The moon sets in Melbourne at 5:20 am and the sun rises at 6:26 am. The shorter time between moonset and sunrise really limits your time to watch the meteor shower.
Adelaide is similar to Melbourne with the moon setting at 5:14 am and the sun rising at 6:25 am. Hopefully, you should get at least 30 minutes to scan a fully dark sky.
Over in Perth, the moon will set at 4:15 am and the sun will rise at 5:29 am.
How to watch Orionid Meteor Shower In Australia
The Orionids are located at the top of Orion's club or sword. To find the radiant, look for Orion's distinctive three-star belt, then follow the constellation down to the bright star Betelgeuse.
A little further down is the shower's radiant. The trick is to look for meteors moving away from this point across the sky, as meteors near the radiant are fainter and harder to detect with the naked eye.
Naturally, the shower is best viewed in the dark before dawn. You should also try to find a place away from artificial lights, such as a large park or ultra rural area.
Patience is also key: you need to allow your eyes to adjust - and even then, seeing your first meteor can take a while. Like fishing, stargazing rewards those who wait. For this reason, it's a good idea to bring a rug and lie down, looking skyward.
Time and Date has a table updated daily showing the azimuth and altitude of the radiant for a number of Australian locations. It'll also estimate your best chance of viewing the Orionids from your location.
Orionid Meteor Shower Viewing Tips
Here are some additional viewing tips courtesy of our stargazing reporter, Hayley Williams:
- Reduce light pollution. The further away you are from any major cities, the better.
- Find a vantage point. The Orionids are fairly high up in the sky, but the higher up your viewing point is, the more of the sky you'll be able to see.
- Use an app to locate the shower. Using a star viewing app can be the best way to locate the radiant point for the shower — in this case, the constellation Orion, which is one of the easiest to spot in the Australian sky. There are plenty of apps both free and paid for all platforms.
- Let your eyes adjust. The longer you sit in the dark, the more your eyes will pick up even when the meteors are very faint. Limit your phone use as much as possible!
- Scan the sky. While the Orionids radiate from the point just above Orion, look for meteors streaking away from the constellation. You may miss something if you only look in the one place. Remember to constantly be scanning for your best chance of seeing something.
Alternatively, you can always catch the Orionids Meteor Shower live via Slooh's video stream. Coverage kicks off on Saturday, October 21 at 9:59am.
Additional reporting by Hayley Williams.