Sky-watchers disappointed by a lackluster Draconid meteor shower earlier this month have another chance to see a meteor spectacle as the more reliable Orionids are set to light up the night sky on Oct. 21, the Taipei Astronomical Museum said yesterday. The Orionids, which streak out of the constellation of Orion, are known for their consistency in intensity and are therefore less likely to disappoint, museum researcher Ko Pi-yang said.
Many amateur astronomers were frustrated by the Draconids, which peaked on Oct. 8 but failed to reach their full potential of producing over 1,000 shooting stars per hour.
Astronomy buffs who braced the autumn chill to wait for hours that night reported that they saw almost nothing, Ko said.
However, the researcher said astronomy fans can count on Orionids this time.
“This kind of drama will not occur with the Orionids,” Ko said. “They are more down-to-earth, more faithful.”
Ko said a rate of about 25 shooting stars per hour can be expected, with the peak period likely to last from 11pm through to the pre-dawn hours of the next day. Even if the Orionids’ reliability sounds unappealing, the fact that the shooting stars are the legacy of Halley’s Comet — arguably the world’s most famous comet — is a good enough reason to burn the midnight oil, Ko said
He explained that the Orionid meteor shower happens annually when the Earth ploughs through dusty debris from Halley’s Comet (named after astronomer Edmond Halley, who determined the comet’s periodicity and contributed to further knowledge of the solar system).
“We usually joke that the Orionids are blue-blooded,” Ko said. “If you want to learn more about Halley’s Comet, you can’t ignore its family members.”