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Above Portland, Oregon Coast: Peak of Meteor Showers This Weekend

Published 10/18/2018 at 5:54 PM PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection Staff

Above Portland, Oregon Coast: Peak of Meteor Showers This Weekend

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(Oregon Coast) – The peak of the Orionid meteor shower happens this weekend, on October 21 and 22, with mostly clear skies one of those nights around Portland and the Oregon coast. The bad news, however, is that the moon will be interfering a bit with the view of sparks in the sky, and the 22nd – Monday – is when the run of nice weather ends. (Above: star and moon movement at Manzanita).

NASA predicts some 15 to 20 meteors per hour could be seen, but it may be less because the moon is very near full by the weekend, hitting full on Wednesday.

Sunday’s weather forecast is still for mostly clear skies, but clouds move in by the morning and Monday night will likely be mostly cloudy. Still, the interstellar fun sticks around for about another week in the Pacific Northwest, which includes all of Oregon and the beaches. (See Oregon Coast Weather)

NASA said the best viewing should be around 2 a.m. Scientists also say it can take your eyes up to 20 minutes to completely become accustomed to the dark, so give yourself some time under the stars first.

According to NASA, meteor showers tend to come in bursts and there will often be lulls where nothing happens.

The Orionids come from the tail of Halley’s Comet – something that also creates the Eta Aquarid meteor showers in the spring.

Halley's Comet is a ball of ice and rock that is left over from the formation of our solar system, only seen once every 75 years. The last time Earthlings saw it was 1986, and it's not due to return until 2061.

As it continues zipping around our solar system, it leaves behind a dusty trail. When the comet swings close to the sun on its orbit-like path, the sun heats its icy surface, which then releases particles of not just ice but dust as well. When the Earth's orbit wanders into that debris field, they start hitting the atmosphere and burn up as fiery little streaks of light.

These are the shooting stars we see in a meteor shower.

The tiny chunks hit at about 40 miles per second, sometimes faster, making this meteor shower actually the second fastest.

How to see them?

Your first consideration should be getting out of the interference of light. The Oregon coast will be perfect for this, with just about every beach hidden from most major light sources. Some of the best spots can be the high viewpoints, simply because of the dramatic views paired with the sky show. These include the Neahkahnie overlooks by Manzanita, Cape Foulweather near Depoe Bay, the pullouts just south of Yachats or Silver Point near Cannon Beach.

For Portlanders heading into the coast range or the countrysides of Clackamas or Washington counties will be prime as well. - Oregon Coast Lodgings for this event - Where to eat - Map and Virtual Tour

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