October brings meteor showers to New Jersey sky
October is a busy month for skywatchers as two meteor showers will be visible in the New Jersey night sky.
The two meteor showers are the Draconid and Orionid. The Draconid will be visible this week and the Orionid in a couple of weeks. The Draconid will be active through Oct. 10, but is a short-lived shower, according to EarthSky.org, so be alert.
The meteors appear to come from the head of the constellation Draco the Dragon which is where they get their name. In most years, there are just a few meteors per hour, but some years have seen hundreds of meteors per hour. The best time for viewing is early evening just after the sun sets.
The Orionids, which take their name from the constellation Orion, and will peak Oct. 20 and 21. According to NJ.com, expect about 20 shooting stars an hour. The Orionids are the leftovers from Halley’s Comet which last made an appearance in 1986; meteors are dust and rock left behind by comets.
Earthsky.org says to expect less than optimal viewing conditions for the Orionids as the Hunter’s Moon will be lighting up the night sky, making the meteors harder to see. The best time to see them is in the hours just before dawn. The ones you do see, however, will be moving fast: like 40 miles per second fast. They also tend to leave trains, or gas trails, that stay visible for a few seconds after the meteor passes.
For both meteor showers, it is recommended that you find a dark place, as far from city lights as you can get. While the meteors radiate from a point near their constellations, they should be visible across the sky.
The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Bill Doyle. Any opinions expressed are Bill Doyle's own.