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Orionids Meteor Shower 2012: Tips for Watching in the Chicago Area

Shooting stars will be flying this weekend in the Chicago area. The Orionids meteor shower promises to be a show worth watching, according to info from the Adler Planetarium.

Orionids Meteor Shower 2012: Tips for Watching in the Chicago Area

The offspring of Halley's Comet are about to put on quite a show in the skies around Chicago.

Earth will pass through a stream of debris from Halley's Comet beginning Monday, which will give us the benefit of the annual Orionids meteor shower—though you probably won't see much until a bit later.

According to Adler Planetarium, the shower is expected to peak in the Chicago area just before midnight Saturday, Oct. 20, and continue until just before dawn Sunday, Oct. 21. The moon sets early that night, which will keep the sky dark enough that—barring cloud cover—you should be able to see about a dozen meteors per hour, according to Adler's information.

"Despite not being the most spectacular meteor shower, the Orionids have the most well known of all the meteor stream parent bodies," Adler Planetarium astronomer Michael Solontoi told National Geographic last fall. "As Halley's comet orbits the sun, it has left behind dust that was liberated from the comet when it was warmed by its close passage to the sun, most recently in 1986."

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?

The stars tend to shoot from Orion's club, pierce Taurus the Bull, the Gemini twins, Leo the Lion and finally, Canis Major, home of Sirius, the brightest star we can see—well, aside from the sun.

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.

To make sure you get the best view possible, remember to check the weather forecast and conditions before you head outside to watch. 

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