The offspring of Halley's Comet are about to put on quite a show in the skies of Southern California.
Earth will pass through a stream of debris from Halley's Comet beginning today, which will give us the benefit of the annual Orionids meteor shower—though you probably won't see much until a bit later.
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 approximately 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 of all, 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?
There's also something else that's 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.
The showers are best spotted in the wee hours, which means some local areas may be closed. In areas closest to Glendora, the Angeles National Forest ranger station recommends that you go to any area where there is plenty of dark sky and less city lights. Some turnout areas along Glendora Mountain Road may be ideal, however forest officials remind those watching the meteor shower to practice safe driving and be mindful of their surroundings. Roads into the forest can be very dark, narrow and winding.
Remember to check the weather forecast and conditions before you head outside to watch.