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Orionid meteor shower peaks tonight

Posted by David Epstein  October 20, 2012 06:45 PM

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Much of the country will enjoy clear skies tonight to get a view of the Orionid meteor shower which peaks in just a few hours. For the past 5 years, this meteor shower has been the best one of the year. The optimal time to view the show will be after 11PM when the moon sets. We are fortunate in that the moonlight will be minimal and that skies will be clear across many areas including New England. Unlike this summer when clouds spoiled the Perseid meteor shower for many folks, tonight will be clear. I'll be tweeting more later tonight on Twitter at @growingwisdom and check out my latest videos at


The Orionid meteor shower is caused by remnants of Halley's comet streaking across the sky. Although the actual comet won't be visible for another 50 years tonight provides an opportunity to see pieces of the comet.

Shooting stars are are caused by specs of dust and debris, many smaller than a grain of rice. They can reach speeds of over 150,000 MPH and will burn up upon reaching our atmosphere.

Time and place
The best time to view the shower will be late around midnight. This is one of those events that is fun for the kids so wake them up! Temperatures across much of the country are mild too, an added bonus. orion_radiant_300.jpgJust get somewhere that there are no lights and the darker the better. You can expect to see about 25 meteors each hour and they usually come in clusters, not evenly spread out so be patient.

According to NASA there are many other celestial objects to see this evening.

"In addition to Orionids, you'll see brilliant Venus, red Mars, the dog star Sirius and bright winter constellations such as Orion, Gemini and Taurus," NASA officials said in a skywatching advisory. "Even if you don't spy a meteor, the rest of the sky is dynamite!"

Foliage October.png
The leaves are peaking across extreme south coastal Maine and down into much of southern New England this weekend. Sunday will be the best viewing day with the most sunshine but Saturday afternoon will also be good for seeing the leaves. The storm Friday with rain and wind will take a good percentage of leaves off the tree so be aware of that, but I expect the show to still be very good.

Apples and pumpkins
Local farms depend on our patronage this time of year for much of their revenue. If you have not yet visited a farm near you please think about doing so this weekend. Whether you are taking the kids or on a first date local farms provide a great venue to enjoy some of New England's best fall offerings.

Gardening tips

This time of year one of the great perennials in the garden are the ornamental grasses. Ornamental grass gives the garden a different texture and brings movement to the garden. The flowers of the grasses come in a variety of shapes, color and textures. Check out the video to learn more about these great plants.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on this blog or any others. Please follow me on Twitter at @growingwisdom and check out my latest videos at

This blog is not written or edited by or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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About the author

David Epstein has been a professional meteorologist and horticulturalist for three decades. David spent 16 years at WCVB in Boston and currently freelances for WGME in Portland, ME. In 2006, More »
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