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Orionid Meteor Shower From Halley’s Comet To Peak Saturday Night

A meteor
Steve Tawa Steve Tawa
Steve Tawa joined KYW Newsradio in 1990, and splits his time between...
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By Steve Tawa

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – If you stay up late Saturday night, or get up early Sunday morning, you may be treated to streaks of white lights racing across the nighttime sky.

The Chief Astronomer at the Franklin Institute, Derrick Pitts says the Orionid meteor shower may not be the most prolific, but even one bright one can be memorable.

“It is an interesting meteor shower because it can show as many as 25 meteors per hour, under clear, dark skies,” says Pitts.

Optimal viewing will be after the waxing crescent moon sets.

“The best time to observe this meteor shower is between the hours of midnight and sunrise,” Pitts explains.

He says the radiant point – the spot in the sky from which they seem to originate – appears to be from the Orion constellation, but they’re actually fallout from Halley’s Comet.

“They are very small particles of dust, almost sand grained sized particles that fall into the earth’s atmosphere,” says Pitts.

So the material we see is debris melting from the nucleus of Comet Halley, as it makes its orbit around the sun.