Check Out The Night Sky This Weekend, And You Might See A Meteor Shower

Oct 19, 2018

The annual orionid meteor shower will be at its peak Sunday and Monday, giving Pittsburghers a fabulous view of space debris streaking across the night sky.

Orionids get their name from the constellation Orion, which is where the meteors appear to come from. However, it's a bit of a misnomer. According to Mike Hennessy, an educator at the Carnegie Science Center, the meteors actually come from Halley's Comet.

"Heat from the sun heats up the ice on Halley's Comet, and so basically as [it's] orbiting the sun it leaves a trail of what I like to call comet crumbs," Hennesy said. 

This happens every year around this time. Hennessy said this year's shower will be visible throughout this month and into early November, but the peak is this weekend.

"Around its peak we're estimating you can look up into the night sky and just head outside, you don't need a telescope, just let your eyes adjust and you'll see meteors streaking by in the night sky," Hennessy said. "If you're lucky you might see 15 to 20 meteors per hour."

Hennessy said there's a slight downside to this year's display -- the moon will be a little brighter than usual.

"This year the moon is competing with the meteor shower," he said. "But if you head outside and let your eyes adjust, in addition to seeing a beautiful gibbous moon you might see a few meteors."

The Carnegie Science Center is inviting sky-watchers to come up onto its roof Saturday night to look at the action. It might rain, but Hennessy said the event will still take place.