How To Watch Tonight's Orionid Meteor Shower In Australia

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

The Orionid meteor shower is one of two meteor showers that result from Earth passing through the debris from Halley's Comet. (The other is Eta Aquarids, which you can read about here.)

Last year's shower had a rate of approximately 15-20 meteors per hour in Australia. This year's display is expected to reap better results, with around 20-30 meteors per hour. Provided the clouds play nice, it's expected to be one of the better meteor showers of the year.

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 Sunday morning October 22, at around 3-5am. Unless you enjoy pulling all-nighters, we advise setting your alarm clock rather than staying up.

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.

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