Yesterday and today are the peak of the Orionid meteor shower, and if your skies are clear of clouds, you will be able to catch some falling stars in the coming nights. This astronomical event will continue till October 29th, with a nice amount of meteors to see every night, especially now with the New Moon, that allows the needed darkness in order to view the meteors well.
What is a meteor shower?
If you raise your head to the night skies, and if weather allows it, most likely you will spot a shooting star or two, and on the right dates – even dozens of them.
Although we have a romantic picture in our mind of making a wish upon a falling, or shooting, star – the brilliant passing lights we see in the skies are not quite what most of us think they are.. Shooting stars are not at all stars – in the meaning of distant suns. And they do not “fall” out of the skies or wither and die…
What we call a “shooting star” is actually a meteor: a small piece of celestial debris, passing by very close to earth, being lit up by the heat of the collision with earth’s atmosphere, leaving a brilliant incandescent trail behind.
From time to time we can spot a shooting star (a meteor) in the skies, but at certain times of the year we have a “meteor shower” – meaning that we have a very large concentration of meteors hitting earth’s atmosphere and many, many shooting stars.
Meteor showers are not a random event. They happen on very specific, and known dates, year after year. They occur when Earth, in its journey around the Sun, enters a field of meteoroids. (the celestial debris before it hits earth’s atmosphere is called meteoroids, and only after it gets into Earth’s atmosphere and burns it is called a meteor).
The Orionid meteor shower is a very special one. It is called “Orionid” because the meteors are seen in the direction of the Orion constellation in the skies, which is seen very well in most places in the world these days. This “astronomical debris” is a relatively new one, as it is made out of some of the residue from the famous Hally’s comet. Comets are the solar system’s great fertilizers, as they are the custodians of biological and genetic ingredients that are different to those of the planets’. It is now well-accepted by scientists that most of life as we know it began due to genetic and biological components that arrived on Earth by meteors.
Together with the Jupiter-Sun conjunction of these days, the fact that Earth is passing between some comet’s particles, makes this a very special time for Earth and apeople to be fertilized by higher and newer things.