Advertisement

How to see the 2022 Orionid Meteor Shower over Utah: tips and best viewing conditions

Clear skies and mild temperatures should make for good viewing this week of the annual Orionid Meteor Shower.

The shower produces bright and fast-moving meteors that glow for a few seconds in the sky.

You can expect to see meteors all week. But the peak of the shower — when the most meteor activity happens — will be Thursday evening, Oct. 20, into Friday morning, Oct. 21.

"Midnight until dawn is really the ideal time to watch," said Curtis Dankoff, a public program supervisor at Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff.

Also working in your favor this year: The moon will be only a thin sliver. That means darker skies and a better chance of spotting more meteors. Meteors will appear throughout the sky but will radiate from the east, he said.

What is the Orionid Meteor Shower?

The Orionid Meteor Shower takes its name from the location where the meteors appear to be originating, in this case the Orion constellation, one of the brightest and best-known group of stars.

The Orionid produces an average of 20 meteors an hour. But if you live in the city, you won't see as many because of light pollution. Patience is also important. Meteor showers are not predictable; you could wait several minutes before you see any.

"It's going to be a handful of meteors you will see in an hour," said Adam Block of the University of Arizona Steward Observatory.

Meteors are remnants of comets that burn up in the Earth's atmosphere and leave a glowing trail. Showers happen periodically when the Earth passes through particularly dense dust, typically at about the same time each year.

The Orionid shower happens once a year when the Earth passes through the debris of the famous Halley's Comet.

Tips to watch the Orionids

Here are tips to help you spot the most meteors:

  • Find a dark spot. Get away from city lights, if you can. If you are watching from your yard, get away from street lights and house lights.

  • Turn off your cell phone or put it away. The lit screen interferes with the ability to see most meteors.

  • Plan to spend at least an hour outside. It takes time for your eyes to adjust to the dark and for the meteors to appear.

  • Bring out comfortable chairs or blankets.

  • Look to the east or straight up into the sky.

  • You don't need a telescope or binoculars, just your eyes. Using a telescope or binoculars can restrict your views because you are only seeing a part of the sky.

If you happen to miss the Orionid Meteor Shower or want to see another meteor shower this year, just around the corner is the annual Geminid Meteor Shower. Astronomers call the Geminid one of the year's best meteor showers, producing about 120 meteors an hour at its peak. The bright, fast-moving meteors have a yellowish color.

This year, the Geminid Meteor Shower peaks Dec. 14-15.

Reach the reporter at anne.ryman@arizonarepublic.com or 602-444-8072. Follow her on Twitter @anneryman.

Support local journalism. Subscribe to azcentral.com today.

This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: How to see the 2022 Orionid Meteor Shower over Utah