If you have clear skies, tonight is the night to catch the Orionids meteor shower. This is when the shower peaks, but if you're unable to watch it, don't worry. You’ll have plenty more chances to see these shooting stars. The Orionids start in early October and continue until the first week of November. If you get a chance to observe them tonight, you'll likely see at least 20 or so meteors per hour.
With a name like Orionids, you'd be right in thinking the meteors are related to the constellation of Orion. In fact, they appear to radiate just above and to the left of Betelgeuse, the right shoulder of the mythological hunter. Betelgeuse has been all over the news recently for its wild changes in brightness last winter.
For sky lovers, the Orionids are one of the most peculiar showers. In the past, there have been multiple peak days as well as plateaus with shooting stars seen over multiple days.
When comets get close to the sun, they release material and leave behind debris. Meteor showers are caused by the Earth passing through the comet's cloud of debris and, in this case, it’s the most famous of them all: Halley’s Comet.
Halley’s Comet is a short-period comet that has been observed many times since antiquity, although it took us a while to realize it was the same object. It returns near the inner Solar System every 75 to 76 years, with the next passage being in mid-2061.
Most comets are associated with one shower but Halley’s got two. The second is the Eta Aquariids, which are believed to have originated from the comet even though they have separated from the comet’s path in the last few hundred years. The Eta Aquariids peak in May.
The best way to see the Orionids is with your naked eye (binoculars reduce your field of view) and the best time is just before sunrise. If you prefer sleeping in, look East after midnight and you should be able to recognize Orion.