Orinoid Meteor Shower 2012: When and Where to Watch

It’s October. While many associate this month with Halloween, it is also the month of the annual appearance of the Orionid Meteor shower. If you step outside early Sunday morning, expect to see about 25 meteors per hour exploding through the sky. Kind of spooky? Not if you know what’s going on!

Haley’s Comet is the show’s primary sponsor. Each year the Earth passes through a trail of rock and ice debris from the comet and this is sent down through the atmosphere. There, the meteors traveling at 148,000 mph explode in the atmosphere leaving streaks of light across the sky. These are fireworks a la naturale.

But meteors are not all we’ll see. Venus and Jupiter will also be making an appearance in addition to the constellations Taurus, Gemini and Orion. It looks like it’s going to be a good show — plus it’s free, which makes it even better.

So when is the best time to witness this meteor shower which NASA hails as one of the “most beautiful showers of the year”? Griffith Observatory suggests that viewers can see the meteors between 11:11 PM on Saturday night and 5:40 AM Sunday morning.

Best of all, telescopes or binoculars are not needed to see this natural phenomenon. All the curious need to do is wake up a tad early and look to the sky.