Ricochet News

Orionid meteor shower to light up South African skies

By Jesica Slabbert - Oct 20, 2017
Orionid meteor shower to light up South African skies

South Africans can expect to experience an incredible sight as the Orionid meteor shower takes place in the early hours of Saturday, 21st of October 2017.

The Orionids occur every year in October and occurs as debris from Halley's Comet comes into contact with the Earth's atmosphere.

And luckily you won’t need a telescope to be able to see them as they shoot through the sky. This is the point in the year when our orbit intersects that of the stream of debris left by the comet and it burns up in our atmosphere; usually at a speed of around 66 kilometres a second.

On a dark, moonless night, the Orionids exhibit a maximum of about 10 to 20 meteors per hour.

Fortunately, in 2017, the young waxing crescent moon will set at early evening, to provide an inky dark sky for this early morning shower. More meteors tend to fly after midnight, and the Orionids are typically at their best in the wee hours before dawn.

The peak times for viewing this spectacular spectacle should be between the hours of midnight and 1am on Friday night. The constellation of Orion is in the east and the showers are expected to be seen towards the North Eastern sky.

The best way to ensure you have an excellent view is to choose a place where there is little to no light pollution from street lamps and building lights, and have a nice open field with a sleeping bag on hand to ensure comfort as you take in the view.