This month, the Orionids meteor shower is sadly spoilt the Full Moon’s glare, but under perfect, dark conditions, stargazers might expect up to 20 meteors per hour.

The Orionids meteor shower is generated from Halley’s Comet. As of December 2024, the comet will begin its nearly-40 year journey back past the Earth and is due to appear in our skies in June 2061.

Back in the present day, the Orionids meteor shower peaks on the night of the 21st/early morning of the 22nd October 2024, but the shower is active from 2nd October to 7th November. Your best views are under dark skies, after midnight.

This shower emanates from the constellation Orion, which is visible just about everywhere on Earth. For those in northern WA, Orion is higher in the sky and may produce clearer meteors.

When and where to look:

From midnight to early morning, 21st/22nd October, toward the northern horizon.

Do I Need a Telescope to see a Meteor Shower?

You don’t need a telescope or binoculars to see a meteor shower. It’s a great time to gather with friends, roll out your favourite picnic rug, pack the drinks and snacks, and start counting how many “shooting stars” you all see!

It’s best to view a meteor shower under a dark night sky. Most meteors are quite faint, so darker surroundings make it easier to see them. You might consider heading out to a dark sky location at one of WA’s Astrotourism Towns. If you’re an astrophotographer, it is an excellent opportunity to image meteors over some of WA’s iconic landscapes. Where are WA’s Astrotourism Towns? Cross your fingers for a spectacular show.

What is a meteor shower?

Meteors are caused by debris entering Earth’s atmosphere. The debris can be as small as a grain of sand, which burns up in the atmosphere and causes a bright streak of light to appear briefly in our night sky. The debris that causes a meteor can be travelling between 11 to 73 km/second.

A meteor shower is a time when you see lots of “shooting stars”. They are the result of Earth passing through the trail of debris left by a comet or other object that has come into our Solar System and orbited around the Sun.

What is the Moon phase, and will it affect viewing?

The Moon is around its last quarter phase at the peak of the Orionids meteor shower in 2024. This means after it rises at 22:03, the Moon is creating significant interference for stargazing in the pre-dawn sky.

Something interesting

Meteor showers are named after the constellation where the “shooting stars” appear to be coming from. In the case of the Orionids Meteor Shower, the meteors come from the direction of the constellation of Orion. If you have a handy smart phone app that helps you identify objects in the night sky, search for Orion or the Saucepan, and you’ll be looking in the right location.

More reading

The International Meteor Organization is a great place to discover more about all things meteors. Check out their Meteor Shower Calendar. You might even like to become a member!

You might like to…

Become a Citizen Scientist and report meteor sightings! If you happen to see a very bright meteor (often referred to as a “fireball”), WA’s Fireballs in the Sky team based at Curtin University would love to know! Download the Fireballs in the Sky App and keep your eyes peeled!

Find the Best Place to see a Meteor Shower

You need a good dark night sky for the best view. Choose an Astrotourism Town destination and have happy meteor hunting.