The Orionid meteor shower is classic - it occurs every year between October 15 and 29. The peak, in turn, occurs between October 20 and 21. In fact, from October 2 until November 7 the fragments hit the Earth - but the best period of visibility is in fact between October 15 and 29, with emphasis on the peak day.
The Orionids are fragments of the famous Halley's Comet. In October, the Earth enters the comet's tracks, receiving a large amount of these fragments, which make a real show in the sky. Of course, a meteor shower is not like in the movies, or cartoons - but it is, anyway, very beautiful, if you know how to observe.
Although they are launched from Halley, the Orionids do not bear its name. The name, in fact, refers to the constellation from which the objects are radiated.
In 2020, there is a big advantage, even. During the peak, the Moon will be approaching its crescent phase, and with little brightness in the sky, besides setting before midnight. This way, it facilitates the visibility in the sky. But of course, there is still the interference of street lighting, so if you live in a rural area, the visibility of the meteor shower is much better.
You need to be patient. Looking at the sky is not the same as looking at a cell phone screen - your eyes need to adapt to the low light. Therefore, we recommend that you let go of your cell phone for a while to enjoy this natural phenomenon. If you have access to a place away from public lighting (and away from crowds) it's better.
Line the floor with something if you wish, and lie on the floor with your feet facing northeast (if you're in the southern hemisphere). It's easy to find northeast with google maps, or some compass app if your smartphone has a magnetic sensor. Look at the constellation of Orion - a celestial chart or a mobile phone app like SkyMap or Stellarium will help you find the constellation.
Now is the time for patience. Your eyes will need about half an hour to adapt to the light in the sky. That's why it's important not to use your cell phone, or any bright screen. If you need to distract yourself, talk to someone while looking at the sky. Once your eyes adapt, it will be easier to see. The Orionids meteor shower usually produces about 20 meteors per hour, andthey cross the sky at extremely high speed.
The best time to watch it is after midnight, and it lasts until dawn. If you have an observing partner, have a contest, like who can find the most meteors - this can make it more fun for impatient people, or also to avoid falling asleep.
Photo of Halley on its last pass by Earth in 1986 (NASA/W. Liller)
Children of Halley
A longtime friend of planet Earth, the showers are a way to kill the nostalgia for the distant visits of Halley's comet. It is visible from Earth every 75 to 76 years. Halley last crossed Earth's skies in 1986, and the next approach, therefore, only occurs in 2061 - still 40 years away.
Halley discovered in 1705 that three comets visited Earth in the same period of time - every 76 years. He then suspected that it was only one comet. After his death, the comet returned to Earth and took the name Halley, honoring him.
With information from EarthSky and NASA.