The offspring of Halley's Comet are about to put on quite a show in the skies of Mercer Island.
Earth will pass through a stream of debris from Halley's Comet beginning Oct. 15, which will give us the benefit of the annual Orionids meteor shower—though you probably won't see much until a bit later.
The shower (of meteors, that is) should be at its peak the night of Saturday, Oct. 20, until just before dawn on Oct. 21. This year, the moon will be setting at approximately midnight, which will keep the sky darkened enough that—barring cloud cover—you should be able to see up to 15 meteors per hour.
The forecast for Saturday night and into Sunday morning is mostly cloudy with a 60 percent chance of precipitation, according to the National Weather Service, so it might not be the best evening for stargazing. Still, don't give up hope and head for a good clearing, like SE 80th St. Open Space, a spot where there are few street lights and you should be able to see some shooting stars through the cloud breaks.
What makes this shower so cool? First of all, c'mon—it's a show of shooting stars.
Also, though, there's no question about where to look for this one. Meteor showers get their names from the constellations in the sky where they can be spotted. And what's easier to spot than Orion the Hunter?
The stars tend to shoot from Orion's club, pierce Taurus the Bull, the Gemini twins, Leo the Lion and finally, Canis Major, home of Sirius, the brightest star we can see—well, aside from the sun.
There's also something else that's special about this show: With the second-fastest entry velocity of all the annual meteor showers, meteors from the Orionids produce yellow and green colors and occasionally produce an odd fireball.
To make sure you get the best view possible, remember to check the weather forecast and conditions before you head outside to watch.