posted on Oct, 21 2015 @ 08:43 PM
Tonight is the peak of the Orionid meteor shower. Best viewing is going to be after 2 AM, after moonset (yep, that's a word). NASA is predicting a ZHR
(Zenithal Hourly Rate, meteors per hour basically) 20 while Slooh Observatory is predicting as much as 30. The Orionid meteor shower is one of two
showers resulting from the Earth passing through debris left by Halley's Comet as it traverses the inner solar system on it's 75 year orbit. The name
comes from the proximity of the radiant, the area of the sky from where the meteors appear to originate, to the constellation Orion.
Radiant, image source: Earthsky.org
If you miss this one, there's still the South Taurids (peaks Nov. 4-5), North Taurids (peaks Nov. 12-13), Leonids (peaks Nov. 17-18) and the Geminids
(peaks Dec. 13-14).
The Taurids tend to be unimpressive in terms of volume but the Geminid shower is consistently prodigious and typically has a max ZHR over 100. The
Leonids hold a special place for me though as the 2001 meteor storm was one of the most impressive things I've ever seen in the sky. During the peak
that year, max ZHR was something > 1000 (16 per minute).
It was simply unbelievable; fireball after fireball streaking overhead and leaving shimmery trails. Many were large enough that we could see pieces
sloughing off which looked quite a bit like sparking. Perhaps even more interesting, we could also hear a bacon (mmmmm) sizzling noise of sorts when
some of them were zooming overhead (which no doubt added to suggestion of 'sparking'). I'd never heard a meteor before and I haven't since. What I've
since learned is that the sound we were hearing wasn't actually coming from meteors directly, which makes sense because there wasn't a delay between
what we were seeing and hearing. It wasn't discovered until the late 70's that the sound is actually caused by VLF radio waves generated by the
meteors interacting with objects in an observer's surroundings what act as tranducers, a phenomena known as
. You can read some other accounts of the 2001
Now that I've nerded out, anyone else want to share a story?
edit on 2015-10-21 by theantediluvian because: (no reason given)