Tonight Is the Best Night of the Year to See Shooting Stars
Cancel your Friday plans—we’re stargazing.
Tonight, the evening of Oct. 20 (into the morning hours of Oct. 21) is predicted to be the best night to see the 2017 Orionid meteor shower in the U.S.. As luck would have it, it’ll also be one of the darkest nights of the month, falling just after the new moon.
The Orionid meteor shower visits Earth every year around this time, when Earth’s orbit intersects with debris left by Halley’s Comet. These meteors are some of the fastest and brightest you’ll see, as well as some of the “most beautiful,” according to NASA. At the peak, there can be anywhere from 20 to 80 meteors per hour (the 2017 peak is predicted to be on the lower end of the scale).
The Orionids are tiny fragments of Halley’s Comet, left behind when it swings past earth every 75 years or so. Some are as small as a grain of sand. As they enter Earth’s atmosphere, these meteorites heat up and turn into shooting stars.
The meteor shower is visible worldwide, and huge swathes of the U.S. are predicted to experience prime, clear conditions. The further away from light pollution you can get, the better. But if you’re not into the outdoorsy thing, you can always stream it online.