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Look up: Orionid meteor shower coming tonight

A meteor streaks across the sky during the Perseid meteor shower in 2009.
A meteor streaks across the sky during the Perseid meteor shower in 2009. The Associated Press

Attention stargazers: An Orionid meteor shower, known for being the fastest and brightest of meteor showers, will be peaking overnight with 15-20 meteors per hour streaking through the sky.

Problem is, they might be hard to spot.

In fact, the annual showers haven’t bedazzled much in recent years — hard to get excited about 15 to 20 streaking meteors an hour. During their most active years, 80 to 90 fiery balls zip through the sky at some 148,000 miles an hour during the peak hours, NASA’s Bill Cooke told The New York Times.

At times, they’ve been spectacular. In 2012, a streaking fireball lit up the northern California skies and appeared to explode, with reports of a loud boom. “It was a ‘Holy Cow!’ moment,” amateur astronomer Philip Terzian told The Associated Press at the time.

Orionids, remnants left by Halley’s Comet in 1986, happen each year in October and November when Earth’s orbit takes it into the path of the comet’s debris. Their name derives from the fact that they appear to be originating near the Orion constellation.

If you want to risk a surprise, the best place to be after midnight (and in the predawn hours) is someplace with a dark sky, away from major cities, according to Space.com.

Experts recommend lying down, trying not to look at a particular spot so you’ll notice movement in the sky and perhaps see more meteors.

You might get lucky when the moon bids adieu before dawn. And if you’re not lucky this time, your fortunes might improve in December when the Geminids light up the night with between 120 and 160 meteors an hour, the Times reports.

Tom Uhler: 817-390-7832, @tomuh

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