Orionid meteor shower at peak viewing this weekend

DENVER — The night sky will light up as the Orionid meteor shower peaks this weekend.

The Orionids, which are formed from the debris of Halley’s comet, will be at peak viewing in the early-morning hours on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

NASA says to expect to see 10 to 15 meteors per hour this year.

These meteors, known for being bright and quick, get their name because they appear to come from the direction of the constellation Orion.

The best time to observe the Orionids is around 2 a.m., NASA meteor expert Bill Cooke told space.com.

This year, peak viewing will happen well after the moon sets. That gives a dark night sky that’s excelling for spotting the meteors.

Telescopes aren’t needed to see the Orionids shooting across the sky, but try to get away from city lights.

“Come prepared with a sleeping bag, blanket or lawn chair,” NASA advises. “Lie flat on your back with your feet facing southeast.

“Look up, taking in as much of the sky as possible. In less than 30 minutes in the dark, your eyes will adapt and you will begin to see meteors.”

For Denver and the Front Range, there will be some cloud cover Friday night into Saturday and a thin cloud deck overnight Saturday into Sunday.

However, there should be breaks in the clouds to allow for viewing.

By contrast, there will be a lot of cloud cover over the western part of the state that will limit viewing.

The overnight hours will be in the upper 30s early on Saturday and in the low 40s early on Sunday in the Denver area.

Outside the metro area, temperatures will be similar on the eastern Plains. However, temperatures will be at or below freezing in the mountains.

An Orionid meteor recorded by the NASA All Sky Fireball Network station on top of Mt. Lemmon, Arizona on October 13, 2015 at 04:31 a.m. EDT. Orionid meteors appear to come from the direction of the constellation Orion, circled in orange. (Photo: NASA)