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When is the Orionids Meteor Shower 2012? Look Up, Tonight!

The weather is expected to cooperate.

If you’re worried about your chances of catching the Orionids meteor shower tonight, don’t fret.

The meteor shower is set to peak before dawn on Sunday. Despite the cloudy skies Friday and forecast for Saturday, when it matters, the skies should clear. 

A cold front is expected to take most of the clouds with it, according to the NWS.

So, Saturday night, between midnight and dawn, look up.

Meteors should be visible in all parts of the sky, but if you trace their paths, they will all look like they are coming from a single point in the sky – the radiant point – and that’s in the northeast corner of the Orion constellation. Orion will be pretty high in the southeast sky, moving south as dawn approaches. 

This annual meteor shower -- created by debris from Halley’s Comet sizzling up in our atmosphere -- should produce up to 20 meteors per hour or more, according to EarthSky.org.

Meteors will be the stars of the show, if you will, but this weekend’s sky will have some other notable players.

In the northwest of the Orion constellation you’ll see a steady, brightly shining object. That’s Jupiter. In the southeast corner, Sirius, the brightest star in the sky, will twinkle like a colorful disco ball.  

And if you stay up late (or early) enough, look for Venus in the East. Even in the later dawn hours, when the sky begins to turn a bright blue and the stars fade, Venus will continue to shine brightly, the only visible celestial object until it’s washed out by sunlight. 

Obviously, you'll have more luck catching the shooting stars if you're in a place not polluted by light.

Montgomery County College's associate professor of physics Dr. Carrie Fitzgerald agrees, and added, "The moon in going to be in the first quarter, which is not bad for viewing."

And please remember that Montgomery County Parks close at sunset, and it is not permitted to be in them after that time. See the county parks' website for more information.

In Prince George's County, most park facilities also close at sunset—see the county's rules and regulations for more information.

Doug Love October 21, 2012 at 01:04 PM
The Orionids will be with us until the 29th. The moon will be full by then, so it's worth watching asap. Under good skies, folks have been seeing 15-20 an hour, including sporadics from several other showers.

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