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Unfortunate Timing: Waning Gibbous Moon Could Hinder Optimal View of Orionid Meteor Shower

Oct 21, 2016 04:36 AM EDT
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Stargazers and astronomy enthusiasts might not be able to enjoy the full spectacular view of the Orionid meteor shower due to the overpowering brightness of the moon.

The moon during the meteor shower will be on waning gibbous phase, which means that more than half of it will be shining. And because the moon was unfortunately very near the Orinoids, its brightness will hinder the view of the meteor shower.

"Turns out tonight the moon will park itself very close to the Orionid radiant and completely wash out the Orionid meteors," Bill Cooke, an astronomer with NASA's Meteoroid Environment Office told New York Times.

Read: Orionid Meteor Shower to Peak on Oct. 20 to 21 -- Here's What You Need to Know

However, Dr. Cooke noted that the Orionid meteor shower will not be as spectacular as it used to be, even when the moon is not taking much of the spotlight. Previously, the Orionid shower can have as many as 80 to 90 meteors per hour at its peak. But in the past years, there were only about 15 to 20 meteor per hour at its peak.

According to the report from Space.com, The Orinoid meteor shower is an annual event that usually occurs from about Oct. 16 to Oct. 26, with one or two meteors still appearing as far as November 7. The meteor shower got its name because their trails in the sky trails back to the region north of the constellation Orion's second brightest star Betelgeuse.

The Orinoid meteor shower can be considered to be Haley Comet's encore performance. The Earth passes through the particle left behind by the Haley Comet twice every year. The first performance of Haley Comet's dust leftovers were observed earlier this year in May.

People who were unable to witness the full grace of the Orinoid meteor shower don't need to be disheartened. Astronomers noted that there will be another meteor shower in December, the Geminids. The Gemenid shower features about 120 to 160 meteors per hour. Due to this, stargazers don't need to worry about the moon being a party pooper once again.

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