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Orionids Meteor Shower 2012 Peak: Where and When to Watch

Shooting stars will be flying early in the morning, but it promises to be a show worth watching.

The offspring of Halley's comet are about to put on quite a show over the skies of Northfield.

Earth started passing through a stream of debris from Halley's on Monday, Oct. 15, which gives us the benefit of the annual Orionids meteor shower.

The shower should be at its peak the night of Saturday, Oct. 20, until just before dawn on Oct. 21. This year, the moon will be setting at about midnight, which will keep the sky darkened enough that—barring cloud cover—you should be able to see up to 15 meteors per hour.

What makes this shower so cool? First, c'mon—it's a show of shooting stars.

Also, though, there's no question about where to look for this one. Meteor showers get their names from the constellations in the sky where they can be spotted. And what's easier to spot than Orion the Hunter?

The stars tend to shoot from Orion's club, pierce Taurus the Bull, the Gemini twins, Leo the Lion and then, Canis Major, home of Sirius, the brightest star we can see—well, aside from the sun.

Something else special about this show: With the second-fastest entry velocity of all the annual meteor showers, meteors from the Orionids produce yellow and green colors and occasionally produce an odd fireball.

Obviously, you'll have more luck catching the shooting stars if you're in a place not polluted by light.

Joel Weisberg, Stark Professor of Physics and Astronomy and the Natural Sciences at Carleton College, told Patch you can get a good view by finding a good piece of land that doesn't have a lot of lights around.

“The darker the place the better,” he said.

He said not having a lot of trees around helps as well, and the later in the night your viewing time is the better the chance you have to see some action.

And if you're interested in taking a good look at the sky at any other time, Carleton College's Goodsell Observatory is open to the public the first Friday of each month.

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