The Orionid meteor shower peaks tonight: How to watch

This year, the Orionids are competing with bright light from the full Hunter's Moon.

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Wednesday, October 20, 2021
How to watch the 2021 Orionid meteor shower
The 2021 Orionid meteor shower peaks in the early morning hours Thursday, according to AccuWeather.

Stargazers, make sure to set your alarms! The Orionid meteor shower peaks in the early morning hours Thursday.

Typically, the shower produces around 20 meteors per hour, which are known for their speed and brightness, according to AccuWeather.

This year, however, the Orionids are competing with bright light from October's full Hunter's Moon, said Andrew Fazekas, the "Night Sky Guy" and science columnist with National Geographic.

"So you'll probably only see the brightest ones. The fireballs are going to be what are going to be very present," he said.

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Luckily, these fireballs -- comet particles that range in size from that of a golf ball to a living room sofa -- should be visible even through light-pollution suburban areas, Fazekas said.

"We don't know when they happen. The best way to know is just to go out and see them," he said.

The Orionid meteors are particles that shed from Halley's Comet, the famous solar system body that appears in the night sky every 76 years. The comet's return to the inner solar system is slated for 2061.

Each year, Earth slams into the Halley's Comet particles "like clockwork," creating this annual celestial shows, Fazekas said.

The shower gets its name from Orion as the meteors appear to radiate from the bright autumnal constellation.

The best time to view the Orionid is after midnight and up until dawn, according to AccuWeather. Stargazers don't need to look at Orion to spot shooting stars -- instead, look toward the southeastern sky and away from the moon.