SANTA MONICA, CA – The Orionid meteor shower and Hunter’s full moon in October will star in the canopy of heaven this month, but the full moon is rated the highest and will likely wipe out all but the brightest falling stars over Santa Monica Wednesday night and Thursday morning.
And it all depends on the weather. AccuWeather, one of the country’s leading private weather forecasting companies, calls for partially sunny, cool temperatures in the high 60s and lows in the mid-50s.
The Orionids are fast moving meteors and sometimes produce fireballs that could be bright enough to overcome the glaring moonlight. The moon will be about 100 percent full Wednesday night and will still be bright for several days. The moonrise in Santa Monica is at 6:34 pm local time.
The Orionids run from October 2nd to November 7th and culminate on the Thursday before dawn. If you’re planning on seeing this shooting star show, Santa Monica sunrise is around 7:03 a.m. on Thursday.
The Orionids’ meteor shower produces around 20 meteors per hour. The hunter’s moon in October is full on October 20th, one of the peak dates, so only the brightest meteors are visible.
The Orionids, produced by specks of dust left by ancient Comet Halley, appear to radiate from the constellation Orion the Hunters, but can be seen all over the sky.
Skywatchers will have several more meteor showers to choose from over the course of the year:
Taurids, 4th-5th centuries November and again 11.-12. November: This is a long lasting little meteor shower that only produces about five or ten shooting stars an hour. It’s unusual not only for its duration – it lasts from September 7th to December 10th – but also because it’s made up of two distinct branches: the southern taurids, which peak from November 4th to 5th, and the northern taurids which peak on November 11-12.
The southern branch of the Taurid meteor shower is created by the dust particles left by asteroid 2004 TG10, and the source of the northern branch is debris left by comet 2P Encke. Both streams are rich in fireballs. At its peak, a new moon makes the sky dark. The shooting stars appear to be shining from the Taurus constellation, but you can see them all over the sky.
Leonids, 16.-17. November: The Leonid meteor shower, which is generated by grains of dust left by the comet Tempel-Tuttle, runs annually from 6-30. November. The Leonids have a cyclonic peak about every 33 years, when hundreds of meteors can be seen every hour – as was last seen in 2001 – but this will be an average year of around 15 shooting stars per hour at its peak. An almost full moon will be a nuisance, but the Leonids are known to produce particularly bright falling stars that even bright moonlight cannot extinguish. The meteors seem to come from the constellation Leo.
Geminids, 13-14th centuries December: The Geminid meteor shower, which took place from 4th to 17th Taking place December is one of the best shooting star shows of the year. Produced by debris left by the asteroid 3200 Phaethon, discovered in 1982, the Geminids produce between 50 and 120 multicolored meteors per hour at their peak. A waxing, domed moon on the summit will hide some, but they’re so productive and bright that the 2021 show should be a good one. The meteors appear to be radiating from the constellation Gemini, but you can see them all over the sky.
Ursiden, December 21st: The Ursiden meteor shower runs from December 17th to 26th and always reaches its peak around the winter solstice. The Ursids are quite reluctant, delivering five or 10 meteors per hour, but on rare occasions can produce eruptions of 100 or more meteors per hour. The meteors seem to come from the Ursa Minor constellation.
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