October 21 and 22, before dawn. Orionids
Although the moon doesn’t rise till after midnight, the Orionids usually wait until the wee morning hours to pick up steam. And there will be a rather large waning crescent moon in the sky during this year’s Orionid meteor shower. Despite the moonlight, meteor enthusiasts may want to give the Orionids a try. On a dark, moonless night, the Orionids exhibit a maximum of about 15 meteors per hour. These fast-moving meteors occasionally leave persistent trains and bright fireballs. If you trace these meteors backward, they seem to come from the Club of the famous constellation Orion the Hunter. You might know Orion’s bright, ruddy star Betelgeuse. The radiant is north of Betelgeuse. The Orionids have a broad and irregular peak that isn’t easy to predict. More meteors tend to fly after midnight, and the Orionids are typically at their best in the wee hours before dawn. The best viewing for the Orionids in 2011 will probably be before dawn on October 21 or 22, though the waning crescent moon will interfere with this year’s Orionid display. But check ‘em out anyway. As we learned during the Draconids shower earlier this month … even one meteor streaking along in bright moonlight can be breathtaking.