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Orionid meteor shower: Best times to watch

October 19, 2012 |  5:30 am

Alert sky watchers may already be spotting signs that the annual Orionid meteor shower is back, but experts say the best time to see the streaking meteors won't be until this weekend. 

In Los Angeles, the Griffith Observatory said the brightest meteors would reach their peak between 11 p.m. Saturday and 5:40 a.m. Sunday. They are best seen away from urban light pollution.

Up to 25 meteors per hour may be spotted if you're watching from a dark place.

The annual show -- named because the meteors appear to come from the constellation Orion -- occurs each October as the Earth, in its orbit around the sun, passes through a trail of dust left by Halley's Comet, according to NASA

"Since 2006, the Orionids have been one of the best showers of the year, with counts in some years up to 60 or more meteors per hour," Bill Cooke, of NASA's Meteoroid Environment Office, said in a statement.

Sunday before sunrise should be the peak time for those hoping to get a glimpse of the meteors, NASA said, as Earth passes through the densest patch of the comet's debris. You won't need a telescope. To spot the shower, the agency said on its website, just "wake up a few hours before dawn, go outside and look up."

Both Jupiter and Venus should also be visible in the sky.

If you're looking for a few meteor-watching pointers, the Griffith Observatory will be holding a public star party Saturday evening. 


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-- Kate Mather