Stargazing: Orionid meteor shower

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The annual Orionid meteor shower peaks Sunday morning between midnight and dawn. Since the first quarter moon sets around midnight, moonlight won't interfere with the shower. With a clear dark sky, you might spot 15 to 20 meteors each hour before dawn.

The Orionid shower gets its name because the meteors or shooting stars appear to streak out of a point called the radiant in the constellation Orion. Finding the Orionid radiant is easy. It lies near the left shoulder of the Hunter. But don't stare directly at the radiant. Orionids that appear there will seem short and stubby. Instead, look toward any dark region of the sky about 90 degrees away. You'll see just as many meteors, but they'll seem longer and more dramatic.

The best way to view the Orionids is to lie down on your favorite lawn chair under a dark sky and look toward the southeast. Binoculars or a telescope aren't necessary to view meteor showers. Your eyes will do just fine.

-- By Dan Malerbo,

Buhl Planetarium and Observatory

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