Look up; meteor shower peaks, viewing tips and star party

Stock image | St. George News

ST. GEORGE – The annual Orionids meteor shower will be lighting up the sky this weekend and while you don’t need any special equipment to enjoy the show, one local group is hosting a star party for the event.

The constellation Orion is the radiant point for the Orionid meteor shower | Image courtesy of Earthsky.org, St. George News | Click image to enlarge
The constellation Orion is the radiant point for the Orionid meteor shower | Image courtesy of Earthsky.org, St. George News | Click image to enlarge

The Orionids is at its most spectacular Friday and Saturday but continues on until early November, according to Space.com.

The Orionids meteor shower appears to originate from the constellation Orion and is seen every year as Earth passes through the remnants of Haley’s Comet.

This year, the meteor shower is expected to produce about 20 meteors per hour. Compared to other meteor showers, the Orionid meteors are quick and bright, traveling at a relative speed of about 148,000 mph.

Viewing tips

Here are some tips from Nasa.gov to make watching a meteor shower more enjoyable:

  • Get as far away from urban light pollution as possible. Find a location with a clear, unclouded view of the night sky.
  • Once you get to your viewing location, search for the darkest patch of sky you can find, as meteors can appear anywhere overhead.
  • Whether viewing from your front porch or a mountaintop, be sure to dress appropriately – wear clothing appropriate for cold overnight temperatures.
  • Bring something comfortable on which to sit or lie down. Plan to be patient and watch for at least half an hour. A reclining chair or pad will make it far more comfortable to keep your gaze on the night sky.
  • Put away the telescope or binoculars. Using either one reduces the amount of sky you can see at one time, and lowers the odds that you’ll see a meteor. Instead, let your eyes relax and don’t look in any one specific spot. Relaxed eyes will quickly catch any movement in the sky, and you’ll be able to spot more meteors. Avoid looking at your cell phone or any other light, as both destroy night vision.

Cedar City meteor party

Image courtesy of Google Maps, St. George News
Image courtesy of Google Maps, St. George News | Click image to enlarge

The Southern Utah Space Foundation will host a star party Friday night starting at 8 p.m. at the Three Peaks Recreational Area. Attendees will view the meteor shower and observe the Hercules Great Cluster, the Ring Nebula, globular clusters and the Andromeda Galaxy through a telescope.

The Foundation recommends wearing warm clothing and bringing a blanket or chair that will allow viewers to lie back and just watch the sky.

This event is free and open to the public. However, donations help to buy better equipment for the community and are always appreciated.

Members of the Foundation will stay until everyone has their fill of viewing. However, in the event of inclement weather, a representative will be at the viewing location at 8 p.m. If the party is rained out and no one shows up, the event will be canceled.

To contact the Southern Utah Space Foundation, email Leesa at leesa@susf.org, or call 435-633-1759

Details

  • What: Star party hosted by the Southern Utah Space Foundation.
  • When: Friday, Oct. 21 at 8 p.m.
  • Where: Three Peaks Recreation Area outside Cedar City.
  • Cost: Free, but donations are appreciated.

Email: japplegate@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2016, all rights reserved.

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