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Annual Orionid meteor shower peaks late tonight

Favorable viewing conditions are anticipated for the peak of the Orionid meteor shower tonight, as Earth passes through the debris field of Haley’s comet. The annual meteor shower occurs with varying intensities, but astronomers struggle to differentiate between individual “Forecasts” for the amount of meteors streaking through the night sky. Instead, the shower remains relatively variable and dependent on the density of debris that the Earth passes through.

Regardless, the weather tonight is expected to cooperate. A frontal boundary will be situated well to our north, and our area will remain generally under high pressure. While there could be a few clouds moving in and out of the area, there certainly won’t be any overcast conditions — or low clouds, like the ones that obscured our view of the lunar eclipse last month.

Instead, we recommend heading out to a dark and quiet location away from the city lights tonight. The light pollution in and around New York City makes it very difficult to see meteors, even some that are moderately bright. While the moon will be in the sky tonight, at least for some of the evening, it isn’t expected to be a major mitigator to meteor viewing.

The constellation Orion is often the radiant point of meteors in this meteor shower.

The constellation Orion is often the radiant point of meteors in this meteor shower.

The shower is expected to peak after midnight, through the pre-dawn hours of Thursday. But meteors will be viewable any time after sunset on Tuesday. Temperatures are expected to remain fairly comfortable as well, at least compared to what we experienced a few days ago. Low temperatures generally in the 40’s will feel warm compared to the 20 degree temperatures on Monday morning.

The general radiant point of the meteors will be to our southeast, near the constellation Orion. But you don’t need to find this constellation to see the meteors. If you’re in a dark location, they will move throughout the sky and originate from different points.

Stay tuned for updates throughout the evening and, most of all, enjoy the meteor shower!