You can try to catch a few shooting stars with clear, Seattle skies tonight
Seattle’s skies are rarely clear enough for astronomical events, and less likely to be so in late October. But the city just might get its chance to see the Orionids for their peak.
The meteor shower peaks late on Sunday night (or, more accurately, very early Monday morning), with about 15-30 meteors per hour around its peak.
And, if you can get far enough away from city lights, Seattle skies might just let you see them: skies are expected to be clear enough across the Northwest, assuming you can get away from ground fog, which (unfortunately) has a tendency to form in rural areas.
That’s not the only thing working against you either. The moon is nearly full, creating some natural light pollution which will wash out some of the dimmer meteors streaking across the sky.
And this year’s peak is actually on the lower end of what showers like this can be capable of; some years the Orionids can be as high as 80 per hour, while the Perseids normally result in somewhere between 100 and 200.
Additionally, even though Seattle’s been sporting some clear skies, it’s also had some killer fog this week that’s resulting in very low visibility.
Very foggy this morning, with most Western Washington observing sites showing dense fog. Not much improvement until nearly noon. Be careful when driving in low visibility this morning. Pedestrians and bicyclists, stand out by wearing bright colored or reflective clothing. #wawx pic.twitter.com/0h8zVgT2d8
— NWS Seattle (@NWSSeattle) October 21, 2018
Still, the possibility of clear skies in Seattle makes for a more promising outlook than we usually get. If you do decide to go star-chasing, your best bet will be around 2 a.m., though any time after dark is possible for viewing.
Though the shower gets its name from the point they appear to come from (the Orion constellation) you should be able to see them in any part of the sky. For best viewing, NASA recommends finding an area away from city lights, lying flat on the ground, with your feet facing southeast.
And if you can’t make it out tonight don’t fret: This celestial storm is supposed to last until Nov. 7 according to NASA.