21 October 2006 at 2:10:43 PM
Being so far out in the country, it's still dark enough at night to see meteor shows. Tonight is the Orion peak. 10-15 meteors an hour, after midnight. Look for the Orion constellation
The Orionid meteor shower is active throughout October and the first week of November. ..... When seen near maximum activity, an observer from a rural location can count 15 to 25 Orionid meteors per hour.
....In mid-October the constellation of Orion rises near 2300 (11pm) local daylight time. LDT is your time local regardless of location. You may see meteor activity during the early evening hours, but they will certainly not be Orionids! The Orionids (like all meteors) cannot be seen until they strike that portion of the atmosphere that is visible from your observing site. This can only occur when the radiant has an elevation of -5 degrees or higher. Minus 5? Yes, meteors can actually be seen when their radiant is slightly below the horizon. At this altitude meteors are able to just skim the upper regions of the atmosphere that is visible from your observing site. These meteors are rare and best seen during the strongest showers. You may get lucky and actually see an Orionid "earthgrazer" during the late evening hours. These meteors are different than your average "shooting star" in that they are very long and also long-lasting. The brightest ones can stretch from horizon to horizon, lasting five seconds or more (an eternity compared to the average duration of 0.3 seconds).
As the night progresses the constellation of Orion and the Orionid radiant will climb higher into the sky. The average Orionid meteor will become appear progressively shorter and faster as they strike the dense portions of the upper atmosphere. The radiant will culminate near 0500 LDT, when it lies on the meridian. This will be the best time to see Orionid activity as the radiant will then be located highest above your horizon. To best view Orionid activity look in the general direction of the radiant with the bottom of your field of view situated just above the horizon. Avoid looking straight up as this direction has the thinnest slice of atmosphere. That's great for telescopic work but not for viewing meteor activity. Aim your view a bit closer to the horizon and you will be viewing though a much thicker slice of the atmosphere, allowing you to see more meteor activity. I would also recommend that you not look directly at the radiant as the meteors seen there are short and easily missed. Keep the radiant off to one side of your field of view, but close enough easily tell the meteor came from Orion. Looking in this direction will also help you see the slow Taurid meteors coming from the west and the swift meteors from Leo Minor, coming from the east. Besides these radiants one can also expect up to fifteen random meteors occurring each hour. This offers a good opportunity to see a wide variety of celestial fireworks, if one can stay awake during the early morning hours.
.... One should plan to watch for at least one hour to get a good feeling for the meteor activity. Meteor activity notoriously occurs in bunches with one period being very active and another totally lacking. These odd periods usually don't last longer than 15-30 minutes so at least an hour's watch is recommended. No one can stand for an entire hour and be comfortable so it would be advisable to use a lounge chair. October mornings can be downright cold in some areas so wrap up warmly and keep your head covered.
The moon will be at its new phase on Sunday October 22. This is an idea situation as the moon will rise and set with the sun and will not interfere with glaring moonlight at all. It is also a rare occurrence that the Orionids peak on a weekend, allowing most folks a chance to see the activity and not having to worry about having to run off to work.
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