Prepare yourselves, celestial enthusiasts, as the radiant spectacle of the Orionid meteor shower is set to light up the night sky. Starting from 10:30 pm on Saturday night and persisting until the first lights of dawn on Sunday, the sky will be strewn with a dazzling display of meteors. However, it’s after 11:30 pm that the true ballet of cosmic bodies will unveil itself in all its grandeur; once the moon has sunk beyond the horizon, the stage is set, shrouded in the perfect cloak of darkness for this celestial show to truly radiate.
The National Astronomical Research Institute of Thailand (NARIT) advises that sky lovers across the country will be able to witness this cosmic enchantment. Nevertheless, it is recommended to seek out secluded viewing points, away from the glare of man-made artificial lighting that could tamper with your gaze into the cosmos.
Tracing its journey from the latter part of September until the early days of November, the Orionid meteor shower reaches its mesmerizing zenith this year between October 21-22. If skies are pristine, devoid of clouds and dimmed to a perfect dark, spectators can anticipate viewing up to 20 breathtaking meteors flashing across the sky, every single hour at its peak.
The Orionids, begotten from the scattered debris of Halley’s Comet, provide this spectacle every 76 years. The comet, voyaging close to the Sun, heats up and discharges a trail of dust and gas particles. This stream of comet crumbs is what the Earth glides through every October, causing the crumbs to clash with our planet’s atmosphere, ultimately burning up. The result: a grand parade of meteors streaking across the night sky, illuminating it with awe-inspiring flashes of light.
The meteor shower got its name ‘Orionids’ from the constellation Orion – as it seems to stem from a point in proximity to Orion’s dramatically luminous star, Betelgeuse. NARIT has stated that this astronomical event presents an exclusive opportunity for astrophotographers to capture some truly panoramic pictures of the meteor shower, sternly seated with bright stars such as Sirius and Betelgeuse.
However, anyone fortunate enough to witness this celestial festival but also yearns to cast eyes on Halley’s Comet itself, will have to bide their time. The next scheduled spectacular ‘cometary’ visit by the Sun isn’t until 2061 – 38 years from now. Just another reason to appreciate the regal beauty of the Orionids!