Sack off the Netflix marathon tonight, and turn your attention towards the skies instead - because tonight is the optimum time to catch a glimpse of the Orionid meteor shower, which peak around midnight. The best viewing times are between 9 p.m. and midnight, according to the museum. Under the best of circumstances, sky watchers can see between 10 and 20 streaks per hour, though the moon might reduce visibility somewhat this year. Like any other celestial event, it is best viewed away from the city. Some people may get lucky and spot "fireballs" resulting from the explosion of particularly fast meteors.
University of Southern Queensland Astrophysics Professor Jonti Horner said this year's meteor display could be more hard to see than in other years. Well, if you've been paying attention, you'll know that it's because meteor showers are named for the constellations that they appear to radiate from. In some years, up to 50 to 70 meteors can be seen every hour.
The one bummer about the Orionids peaking tonight is that weather across much of the United States will be poor for skywatching. Urban light pollution will also make it especially hard to spot Orionids, which are known to be dimmer than other annual meteor showers, and a forecast of heavy cloud cover could make it nearly impossible to see for some.
"You need a dark sky and a lot of patience in order to see the comets", Rob Jessel, from the Royal Astronomical Society, said. Stargazers are encouraged to look away from the moon to spot some. Take a blanket or comfortable chair and go early.
If you've ever looked up at the night's sky and thought it was a little boring (you must not be able to see it properly because it's incredible), tonight is your night.
If you miss the Orionids, the next meteor shower will light up the night sky in November.
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