Summary: The outback provides a perfect setting to witness the Orionid meteor shower, with its vast plains and minimal light pollution. Astronomers recommend looking north in the early hours of the morning to catch the biggest show. Expect around 20 meteors per hour, ranging from dim to bright. The Orionids are created by Halley’s Comet and occur annually in October. The lack of light pollution and moisture in the outback skies make it an ideal location for stargazing.
The outback, with its sprawling plains and rugged beauty, transforms into a breathtaking spectacle at night. As the Orionid meteor shower reaches its peak this weekend, astronomers are drawn to the outback, eager to witness the vivid and radiant starry night sky. Alex Macdonald, coordinator of the Charleville Cosmos Centre in southwest Queensland, suggests waking up super early and gazing towards the north to experience the best of the meteor shower.
Mr. Macdonald recommends being patient and stepping outside between midnight and the early hours of the morning when the sky is at its darkest. While this year’s meteor shower might not produce the highest number of meteors, stargazers can still expect to see a few shooting stars. The meteors vary in brightness, some appearing dim while others blaze brightly across the night sky.
Halley’s Comet, visible from Earth only once every 76 years, is responsible for creating the Orionid meteor shower. When Earth passes through the dust left by the comet, the meteor shower occurs. Professor Jonti Horner, an astrophysicist at the University of Southern Queensland, likens this phenomenon to a traffic roundabout. The Earth repeatedly passes through the same area of debris, resulting in a predictable display of meteors every October. The Orionid meteors can all be traced back to the northern part of the Orion constellation.
Although the northern hemisphere is considered the best location to view the Orionid meteor shower, the Australian outback surpasses all other locations in the country. The absence of light pollution allows for clearer visibility of the meteor shower. In addition, the outback’s dry atmosphere minimizes refraction and blurriness, making it an ideal setting for stargazing, especially when using telescopes.
Tags: Orionid meteor shower, Australian outback, astrophysics, stargazing, Halley’s Comet, Charleville Cosmos Centre