The offspring of Halley's Comet are about to put on quite a show in the skies of Southern California.
Earth began to pass through a stream of debris from Halley's Comet earlier this week, which will give us the benefit of the annual Orionids meteor shower— however you probably didn't see much.
The shower should be at its peak the tonight, until just before dawn on Sunday. 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.
The Taurids meteor shower also started this month and meteors should be visible beginning tonight, according to Monrovia resident and JPL scientist Jane Houston Jones. Jones said in her monthly "What's Up" video for JPL that Taurids will peak in November.
The showers are best spotted in the wee hours, which means several of the best local vewing areas will be closed. Mt. San Antonio College welcomes science fans to come out and look at the skys at its Randall Planetarium when classes are not in session. To check for times, check the website or call (909) 274-5795.