Observing the Orionid Meteor Shower

Contributed by Dennis Goodman, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The Orionid Meteor shower peaks around 21-22 October each year. This is one of the two meteor showers associated with Comet Halley, the other being the Eta Aquairids, visible early May.

The radiant point for the Orionids is a little below, and to the right of, Betelgeuse. So it is not a high radiant for NZ observers. Orionids tend to travel quite long distances, and often leave trains, which can sometimes be visible for several seconds.

The Orionids are not a rich shower, and if you see 10 an hour from our latitude, that's good. It is definitely more favourable viewing them from the northern tropics e.g. Hawaii. But, give it a go anyway.

It is best to have a good, dark sky to the north and overhead. Don't look at the radiant area, but at least 15-20 degrees away (see notes on this in the Leonid meteors). From our latitudes, the best area of the sky to watch is the upper part of Orion and higher, Taurus, and the area of sky to the right of Canis Minor.

Betelgeuse rises about midnight, NZ time. At about 4.30 am Aldebaran in Taurus, Betelgeuse and Procyon, in Canis Minor form an arc from north to north east as seen from New Zealand.

See how you get on, and send me your observations, if you wish. Observations should be sent to me at P O Box 2214, Christchurch or (preferably) email them to me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..