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Orionids Meteor Shower Coming Soon

Shooting stars will be flying, sometimes in spectacular colors, over Santa Clara County starting this week. The 2012 Orionids meteor promises to be a show worth watching.

By Patch Staff

The offspring of Halley's Comet are about to put on a colorful show in the skies over Gilroy and Santa Clara County.

Earth will pass through a stream of debris from the comet, beginning Monday, Oct. 15, which will give us the benefit of the annual Orionids meteor shower; though you probably won't see much until a bit later.

The best place to view the shower is away from city lights, like open spaces in nearby foothills, or parks like Henry Willard Coe State Park east of Morgan Hill, and Fremont Peak State Park, 11 miles south of Gilroy near San Juan Bautista.

No formal viewing parties have been organized in the Gilroy area, but if you plan to host one please add it to the Gilroy Patch events calendar.

The Orionids should peak from the night of Saturday, Oct. 20, until just before dawn Oct. 21.

This year, the moon will be setting around midnight, which will keep the sky darkened enough to see up to 15 meteors per hour.

The best time for viewing is between 1 a.m. and dawn, no matter what time zone you're in, according to EarthSky.org.

Meteor showers get their names from the constellations where they originate, in this case Orion the Hunter.

The Orionids can be seen across the sky, but tend to shoot from Orion's club, pierce Taurus the Bull, the Gemini twins, Leo the Lion and finally, Canis Major, home of Sirius, the brightest star we can see—well, aside from the sun.

With the second-fastest entry velocity of all the annual meteor showers, the Orionids produce yellow and green colors and occasionally an odd fireball.

Space.com has these tips and more:

  • Get as far away from city and other artificial lights as possible. Meteor showers are best viewed in really dark skies.
  • Use a chair that reclines enough for you to comfortably gaze into the sky.
  • You don’t need binoculars or a telescope – that will only limit the amount of sky you can see.

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Are you an amateur photographer who is planning to capture images of the Orionids meteor shower? Share your photos with us by clicking the Upload Photos and Videos button above.

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