How to Watch the Orionids Meteor Shower

Every year in late October, our planet passes through debris left behind by Halley's Comet, and some of that debris turns into meteors. If you're at the right place at the right time and looking in the right direction, you could see up to 20 meteors an hour in the Northern Hemisphere, or up to 40 an hour in the Southern Hemisphere.[1]


  1. 1
    Find the peak viewing hours for this year. In 2012, the best time to spot these meteors in is October 21, 2012, before dawn.[2]
  2. Image titled Watch the Orionids Meteor Shower Step 1
    Look up the weather report for the date of the meteor shower. Check the moon phase to see if its brightness might interfere with seeing the meteors. In 2012, waxing crescent moon setting before midnight will create a dark sky ripe for meteor watching.[2] If the weather is going to be cloudy in your area, though, you might be out of luck. If it's only cloudy on the peak night, you can try watching the meteors on other nights between the 17th and the 25th.[2]
  3. Image titled Watch the Orionids Meteor Shower Step 2
    Choose a good spot. The further you get away from city lights, the better you'll be able to see the meteors. In the Northern Hemisphere, you'll want a spot where you have a clear view in an east/southeast direction (no trees or tall buildings on the horizon). In the Southern Hemisphere, you'll need to look in the east/northeast direction.[1]
  4. Image titled Watch the Orionids Meteor Shower Step 3
    Go to your viewing spot during the early morning hours (between midnight and dawn). That's the best time to spot meteors because Earth moves into the debris field as it rotates into sunlight.[3]
  5. Image titled Watch the Orionids Meteor Shower Step 4
    Find the Orion constellation. The easiest thing to spot might be Orion's belt, a group of three stars in a straight line. Envision this belt as the "waist" of an hourglass. In the Northern Hemisphere, the hourglass will lean to the left. In the Southern Hemisphere, it'll lean to the right. To test yourself, try finding the Orion constellation in the introduction image of this article.
  6. Image titled Watch the Orionids Meteor Shower Step 5
    Look for the radiant. The radiant is the central point from which the meteors will emanate. In the Northern Hemisphere, it'll be just left of the hourglass, as if the upper left hand star is pointing to it. In the Southern Hemisphere, it'll be below the hourglass, as if the lower right corner is pointing to it. (These approximations are given for mid-hemisphere latitudes; the orientation will vary slightly depending on how far you are away from that latitude.)[1]


  • Try to get some rest beforehand, so you can stay awake during the early morning.
  • If it's cold in your part of the world, pack a sleeping bag or blanket.
  • There will be other, not-as-prominent meteor showers at the same time, in other parts of the sky: Epsilon Geminids and Taurids.

Things You'll Need

  • Warm clothing
  • Snacks and hot drink (if out for a long time)
  • Weather forecast
  • Good viewing spot
  • Camera (optional)

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