Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Orionid Meteor Shower

About once a month I automatically wake up ridiculously early for no good reason. Today I was up at 5, piddling around, and then I remembered that this morning is the peak of the Orionid Meteor Shower. The Orionids are caused by debris from Halley's Comet, and their name comes from the fact that they appear to originate from the vicinity of the constellation Orion.

I checked the temperature--26 degrees, which used to seem cold, but now just seems like morning. I put on my fleece, hat and gloves and went out to watch for meteors. It has been a long time since I've stood under winter constellations: well known Orion, the Pleiades and the perfect V of Taurus, and Canis Major, with the brightest star of the nighttime sky. Montana is called Big Sky Country. Most of it is also dark sky country. The Milky Way is striking, and you can see all of the stars of the Little Dipper. I saw quite a few meteors. They were reasonably bright, but they didn't travel very far before they disappeared, unlike the Perseids, some of which streak across the sky in a blaze of glory.


  1. Do you have a telescope? Looks like it would be pretty cool to have. Sounds like you are far away from city lights and visibility would be really good. Something to consider!

  2. I think the closest I'll get to having a telescope is my 16x binoculars. I'm not a very serious astronomer. I like the large events: meteor showers, planet groupings and the occasional lunar occultation--when the moon passes in front of a star or planet.