One of the best meteor showers of the fall will peak on Friday night with over a dozen meteors streaking across the night sky every hour.
Clear skies will bring excellent viewing conditions for those across the eastern United States while clouds and wildfire smoke will obscure the shower for some areas in the western and central U.S.
The Orionids is an annual meteor shower that is caused by debris left behind by Haley’s Comet burning up in Earth’s atmosphere.
“The shower will produce somewhere between 10 and 20 meteors per hour,” AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist and Astronomy Blogger Dave Samuhel said.
“The best viewing in the Northern Hemisphere will be after midnight,“ Samuhel added.
This year will be a particularly good year for viewing the Orionids as the peak of the shower falls just days after the new moon, meaning there will be little natural light pollution for the shower to compete with.
However, light pollution from cities and towns can wash out some of the dimmer meteors, reducing the number of meteors people can see from these areas.
The eastern U.S. will have the best weather on Friday night for viewing the shower with a large dome of high pressure promoting clear skies across the region. Last year clouds obscured the shower for many in the eastern U.S., but this year will likely provide a better window for viewing meteors.
However, late-night fog may develop in some areas which can impact those trying to view the Orionids before dawn.
Clear skies are also expected across much of the southwestern U.S., while clouds create issues for those trying to view the shower in the northwestern and central U.S.
Smoke from wildfires burning across California may also lead to poor viewing conditions in some parts of the state.
People heading out to view the shower on Friday night should be patient as it may take some time to spot some shooting stars.
“It is best to allow your eyes to adjust to the darkness for a full 45 minutes, to achieve prime night vision,” Samuhel said.
There will be a few more opportunities for people to view a meteor shower this year if they miss the one this weekend, including the Geminids in December, one of the best meteor showers of the entire year.