Searching for a fun thing to do this weekend? How about looking up! The Orionid meteor shower peaks over the next few days, unleashing as many as 15 to 20 meteors an hour under dark, clear skies.
This year’s show will be a little trickier to catch, thanks to a waxing gibbous moon. That will outshine many of the fainter meteors, but with a little bit of patience you’ve still got a good shot at snagging some shooting stars. The display will begin to taper down by Sunday.
In the nation’s capital, the predawn hours of Saturday morning may be the best time to look — after the moon sets at 3:05 a.m. and before the sky brightens before sunup. However, clouds and showers from a passing cold front could spoil the show. The weather may be an issue from the Eastern Seaboard to the Midwest, but the Rockies will enjoy perfect stargazing conditions.
The best viewing will be after midnight and before local sunrise, when the constellation Orion is high in the southeast sky. While the meteors will appear to radiate from that point, there’s no need to stare at one location. There will be an equal distribution of shooting stars across the sky.