As Earth passes through a stream of dusty debris from Halley's Comet, skygazers are treated to one of the most beautiful meteor showers of the year, according to Bill Cooke, head of NASA's Meteoroid Environment Office.
"The Orionid meteor shower isn't the strongest, but it is one of the most beautiful showers of the year," Cooke says.
To see the show, which begins today and will peak the morning of Saturday, Oct. 21, Cooke suggests going outside one to two hours before sunrise when the sky is dark and the constellation Orion is high overhead. Lie down on a blanket with a broad view of the sky. Although Orionids emerge from a small area near the shoulder of Orion, they will spray across the entire sky.
“Be prepared for speed,” Cooke says. “Meteoroids from Halley’s Comet strike Earth's atmosphere traveling 148,000 mph. Only the November Leonids are faster.”
Did you know that because these meteors streak out of the constellation Orion, astronomers call them "Orionids"?
So far, 2012 has been an interesting year for skygazers, with a blue moon in August (the last until 2015), the Perseid meteor showers, the discovery of a fifth moon around dwarf planet Pluto in July and the Venus transit in early June. Do you follow the what's happening in space? Tell us in comments.