By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily
Here’s the good news: Wyomingites still have plenty of opportunities to see the Orionids meteor shower before it wanes in early November.
The bad news is that you’ll either have to stay up late or plan on waking up in the middle of the night.
The Orionids meteor shower is considered to be one of the most beautiful of the year, according to NASA, and is known for the brightness and speed of the meteors entering earth’s atmosphere. They can reach speeds of about 148,000 mph as they enter the atmosphere.
Max Gilbraith, plaetarium coordinator at the University of Wyoming, told Cowboy State Daily that the meteor shower can be best seen after midnight, usually around 1 or 2 a.m.
“Weather conditions are going to be the main concern, especially down in the southeast portion of Wyoming, where we have smoke from the Mullen and Cameron Peak fires,” Gilbraith said. “I would recommend getting anywhere high and dry, especially a place where you won’t have light pollution, like in Cheyenne and Casper.”
The astronomer also recommend not using binoculars or a telescope when looking for the meteor shower, as only looking at one spot (albeit magnified) will likely mean missing meteors in another portion of the sky.
Meteor showers occur when the earth passes through a “meteroid belt,” leftover “dust” from the disintegration of a comet, in this case, Halley’s Comet.
Gilbraith said the meteor shower will peak around Oct. 20, meaning that is when the most meteors can be seen in the shortest period of time. As recently as 2007, the meteor shower peaked at 70 meteors per hour, equaling just over one per minute.
“That is phenomenal, because there are usually a few dozen per hour, around 10 to 20,” he said.