Friday, October 20, 2017

Schools : Here comes the Orionid meteor shower !

étoiles filantes 
© Luna Joulia

Bonne nouvelle! Depuis cette nuit, le 20 octobre et jusqu’au 7 novembre, une pluie de météores permettra d’observer nombre d’étoiles filantes, avec un pic maximum dans la nuit du 20 au 21 octobre. Préparez vos vœux!

Eh! Oui! La magie des étoiles filantes nous touche de très près. On aime faire nos voeux et les envoyer directement à chaque étoile filante qu'on voit!

Les amoureux d’étoiles faites attention à vos voeux. Moi aussi, si j'ai la chance de faire les miens.
On est ravis d’apprendre que ce soir, la nuit du 20 au 21 octobre, on pourra avoir ce plaisir habituellement estival. On continue en anglais?

Orionid meteor shower/ Falling stars

Love shooting stars? Then you’ll love the Orionid Meteor Shower, the second meteor shower of October, which peaks October 21-22 each year.
One of the best sky shows of the year, will peak between Oct. 20 and 22, when the Orionid meteor shower reaches its best viewing. 

They’ll probably be most prolific in the few hours before dawn on October 21, but we can try watching before dawn on October 22, too.

An image of Halley's Comet taken in 1986
The meteors that streak across the sky are some of the fastest and brightest among meteor showers, because the Earth is hitting a stream of particles almost head on.
The particles come from Comet 1P/Halley, better known as Halley’s Comet. This famous comet swings by Earth every 75 to 76 years, and as the icy comet makes its way around the sun, it leaves behind a trail of comet crumbs. At certain times of the year, Earth's orbit around the sun crosses paths with the debris. 

Tonight, could we watch meteors in the annual Orionid shower
Scientists say that we have a good chance, even though this morning before dawn might have presented the peak numbers. 
We can watch pieces of Halley's Comet during the Eta Aquarids (in May) and the Orionid meteor shower (in October and November), NASA meteor expert Bill Cooke said. 
The comet last visited Earth in 1986 and will return next in 2061.

The Orionids are named after the direction from which they appear to radiate, which is near the constellation Orion (The Hunter). 
The Orionids, which peak during mid-October each year, are considered to be one of the most beautiful showers of the year. 

If the meteors originate from Comet Halley, why are they called the Orionids? 

The answer is that meteors in annual showers are named for the point in our sky from which they appear to radiate. The radiant point for the Orionids is in the direction of the constellation Orion the Hunter. Hence the name Orionids.

via EarthSky

Orionid meteors are known for their brightness and for their speed. These meteors are fast - they travel at about 148,000 mph (66 km/s) into the Earth's atmosphere. 

Fast meteors can leave glowing "trains" (incandescent bits of debris in the wake of the meteor) which last for several seconds to minutes. 

Fast meteors can also sometimes become fireballs: Look for prolonged explosions of light when viewing the Orionid meteor shower.

The Orionids are also framed by some of the brightest stars and planets in the night sky, which lend a spectacular backdrop for theses showy meteors.

Skywatchers in 2017 will not have moonlight to contend with, as the first-quarter moon will have set long before the meteors put on their best show. 
If you miss the peak, the show is also visible between Oct. 15 and 29, as long as the moon isn't washing the meteors out.
Sometimes the shower peaks at 80 meteors an hour; at others it is closer to 20 or 30. Cooke predicted that in 2017, the peak would be at the smaller end of the scale, echoing the peaks of 2016 and years before.

Orionid meteors will be visible from anywhere on Earth and can be seen anywhere across the sky. 
If you find the shape of Orion the Hunter, the meteor shower's radiant (or point of origin) will be near Orion's sword, slightly north of his left shoulder (the star Betelgeuse). 
But don't stare straight at this spot, Cooke said, "because meteors close to the radiant have short trails and are harder to see — so you want to look away from Orion." 

World light polluttion 2017
As it's the case with most night time sky watching events, light pollution can hinder your view of the Orionid meteor shower. If possible, get far away from city lights (which can hinder the show). 
Typically, Orionid meteors are dim and hard to see from urban locations, so you should find a dark (and safe) rural location to get the best views of Orionid activity. 

The best time to observe any meteor shower is during the early morning hours (local daylight time), with the numbers of meteors increasing until morning twilight interferes.

Go out and let your eyes adjust to the dark for about 20 minutes. Bundle up against the cold if necessary. Lie back and use only your eyes to watch the sky. Binoculars and telescopes won't improve the view, because they are designed to see more stationary objects in the sky.

meteor showers infographic
credits: Nasa Meteor American Society
Most of us are excited about Orionid shower. Science students too. Do you remember the Summer Solstice 2016 & ‘Strawberry (June 2016)? Or Catch Some Falling Stars, the Quadrantids (January 2016). Don't miss Eta Aquarid meteor shower (May 2016), Here comes the 2nd Supermoon, the Mega Beaver moon (November 2016), Stay up & watch the Total Eclipse ! (August 2017). Wow what a sky! And so many educational resources.

It's school time to teachers and students. So, prepare your students to sky watching and ask them to do some good shots, or videos with smartphones, or tablets to discuss the theme tomorrow or next lesson. May be compare it with the Perseid meteor shower of last year?

The science curriculum will be enhanced with the help of this incredible event.
Meteor showers aren’t just one-night events. In fact, they can last for several days
Do you want a better science lesson ? Enjoy the show!
Hoping to be lucky! The sky is bright. Could I send my wishes tonight?  

Twinkle, twinkle little star, how I wonder what you are.”  

update: 21.2019
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Sources: NASA/ EarthSky

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