The Draconid meteor shower, also sometimes called the Giacobinids, peaked on the nights of October 7 and 8, 2013. EarthSky friends on Facebook and Twitter also reported seeing meteors on the nights before and after that. As always, some people reported no meteors, while others reported a good display. Now it’s time to prepare for October’s second major meteor shower, the wonderful, classic Orionid meteor shower. It has already begun, with Earth entering the Orionids’ meteor stream in space in early October. This shower will peak on the morning of October 21, 2013. Unfortunately, the peak will be largely drowned in bright moonlight this year. Follow the links below to learn more about the Orionids in 2013.
When should I watch for Orionid meteor shower in 2013? This year, the Orionid peak on the morning of October 21, 2013, but they will be nearly drowned in the light of a bright moon, during the peak viewing hours. Still, if you’re outside – under a country sky – on the nights around the Orionids’ peak, you might see meteors streaking along in moonlight on the morning of the peak.
What about prior to the peak or after it? For the Orionids in 2013, that’s a good question, since the moon will interfere with the peak itself. It takes Earth several weeks to ford a meteor stream in space. We are crossing the Orionid meteor stream from about October 2 to about November 7 each year. That’s why we typically hear reports of meteors in dark skies beginning about a week before the shower’s peak, and we continue to hear from people who see meteors in the nights afterwards.
You could start looking for Orionid meteors as of now.
What are you looking for, exactly? You’re looking for meteors whose paths, traced backwards, can be seen to radiate from the famous constellation Orion.
On a dark, moonless night, the Orionids exhibit a maximum of about 20 meteors per hour. These fast-moving meteors occasionally leave persistent trains and bright fireballs. You’ll see far fewer Orionids this year, because of the moon, but you might see some!
Where is the radiant point of the Orionid meteor shower? 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.
What is the origin of the Orionid meteor shower? Meteor showers in annual showers, like the Orionids, happen when debris from comets enters our atmosphere and vaporizes. The Orionids meteors originated in Comet Halley – the most famous of all comets. It last visited Earth in 1986. As the comet moved through near-Earth space, it left behind debris in its wake – bits of ice, dust and rubble – that strike Earth’s atmosphere most fully around October 20-22.
Bottom line: The Draconid (or Giacobinid) meteor shower in early October 2013 was lots of fun. Although we didn’t find an exact meteor count anywhere, many people reported seeing good displays of meteors. Next up on the meteor agenda: the Orionids. 2013 is not optimal for watching the Orionid meteor shower because a bright waning gibbous moon will be in the sky during the peak hours between midnight and dawn. But you might see some meteors even in bright moonlight. The best viewing for the Orionids in 2013 will probably be before dawn on October 21. Try the days before and after that, too, sticking to the midnight-to-dawn hours. You’ll be watching for those brightest Orionids that can overcome the moon’s glare. This post contains info and charts for the Orionid meteor shower in 2013.