The offspring of Halley's Comet are about to put on quite a show in the skies of Philadelphia and its suburbs.
Earth will pass through a stream of debris from Halley's Comet beginning Oct. 15, which will give us the benefit of the annual Orionids meteor shower—though you probably won't see much until a bit later.
Orionids meteor shower should be at its peak the night of October 20. Enjoy it with friends and neighbors at these local "star parties."
Night Out at Hoopes Park in West Chester
The Chester County Astronomical Society will be celebrating National Astronomy Day at Hoopes Park in West Chester on October 20. This free public event starts at sunset.
Star Party at Marsh Creek
The Chesmont Astronomical Society will be holding at Star Party from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. on October 20. The event will take place at Marsh Creek in the lower parking lot.
Delaware Valley Star Party
The Delaware Valley Amateur Astronomers will be hosting a star party at Valley Forge National Historic Park on October 20. The event takes place from sunset to 11 p.m. Click here for more details and directions.
Your own backyard, ball parks, and local playgrounds can also be great places to watch the meteor shower, if weather conditions cooperate. Southeastern Pennsylvania also offers several state parks which can be a great option to what the shower in a large open space, free of light pollution.
Grab a blanket or chair and enjoy the "show" at one of these local parks:
- Valley Forge National Park (Chester and Montgomery Counties)
- Marsh Creek (Chester County)
- Ridley Creek State Park (Delaware County)
- Norristown Farm Park (Montgomery County)
- Fort Washington State Park (Montgomery County)
- Evansburg State Park (Montgomery County)
Several Philadelphia area institutions offer monthly public star-gazing events.
Widener University, in Chester, offers public telescope viewing sessions every Monday and star-gazing the first Friday of each month. Each event is supervised by a Widener University astronomer.
The Observatory at Villanova University is open Monday through Thursday from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Public open nights at Drexel University's Lynch Observatory take place the first Wednesday of each month.
Night Skies at the Observatory takes place the second Thursday of each month at the Franklin Institute's Joel N. Bloom Observatory. Each event offers the opportunity to view stars, planets, and more through five different telescopes.
The shower should be at its peak the night of Saturday, Oct. 20, until just before dawn on Oct. 21. This year, the moon will be setting at approximately midnight, which will keep the sky darkened enough that—barring cloud cover—you should be able to see up to 15 meteors per hour.
What makes this shower so cool? First of all, c'mon—it's a show of shooting stars.
Also, though, there's no question about where to look for this one. Meteor showers get their names from the constellations in the sky where they can be spotted. And what's easier to spot than Orion the Hunter?
There's also something else that's special about this show: With the second-fastest entry velocity of all the annual meteor showers, meteors from the Orionids produce yellow and green colors and occasionally produce an odd fireball.
To make sure you get the best view possible, remember to check the weather forecast and conditions before you head outside to watch.
Will you be staying up late on October 20 to see Orionids meteor shower? Let Patch know where you plan to enjoy this celestial event.