Hunter’s Moon, Orionid Meteor Shower Visible for Next Several Nights

Cast your gaze into the night sky for the next few nights for some views which are out of this world.

The Hunter’s Moon

According to the Old Farmer’s Almanac, “It is believed that this full Moon came to be called the full Hunter’s Moon because it signaled the time to go hunting in preparation for the cold winter ahead. Animals are beginning to fatten up ahead of winter, and since the farmers had recently cleaned out their fields under the Harvest Moon, hunters could easily see the deer and other animals that had come out to root through the remaining scraps (as well as the foxes and wolves that had come out to prey on them).  The earliest use of the term “Hunter’s Moon,” cited in the Oxford English Dictionary, is from 1710.”

The Orionid Meteor Shower

The Orionid meteor shower peaks in mid-October each year.  The Orionids are bright and quick fragments which travel at an average speed of about 148,000 mph.  The meteors are moving so quickly because the Earth is hitting a stream of particles almost head-on. The particles come from Halley’s Comet which swings by Earth every 75 to 76 years, and as the icy comet makes its way around the sun, it leaves behind a trail of comet crumbs. At certain times of the year, Earth’s orbit around the sun crosses paths with the debris, which creates the meteor shower.  As with all meteor showers, the Orionids are named after the constellation in which they appear to come from, which in this case is Orion the Hunter (see image below).  This year’s Hunter’s Moon will make viewing the Orionid Meteor Shower difficult, but the viewers can expect to see approximately 20 meteors per hour.  Some of the tiny comet fragments are as small as a grain of sand. When they enter Earth’s atmosphere, they become meteors. Friction from air resistance causes meteors to heat up, creating a bright, fiery trail commonly referred to as a shooting star. 

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