The offspring of
Halley's Comet are about to put on quite a show in the skies of Ashburn.
Earth began passing through a stream of debris from Halley's Comet beginning Oct. 15, which will give us the benefit of the annual Orionids meteor shower.
The shower should be at its peak Saturday night until just before dawn 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?
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 watch in Ashburn, here are some of our tips (Loudoun County parks technically close at dark, but these suggestions are within communities and offer clear views of the sky):
- Ray Muth Park in Ashburn Village
- Bles Park near George Washington University
- If you're really into it and they have availability, Sky Meadows Park in Clarke and Fauquier counties permits overnight stays.
Where do you go to watch sky events?
To make sure you get the best view possible, remember to check the weather forecast and conditions before you head outside to watch.
As of Thursday night, the outlook for Saturday evening in Ashburn was partly cloudy with temperatures hovering in the low-50s and upper-40s.