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Viewing Conditions for Tonight's Orionid Meteor Shower

October 20, 2012; 6:04 AM

The Orionid Meteor Shower will peak during the early morning hours of Sunday, Oct. 21, 2012. Many U.S. locations will have good viewing conditions, but a few may be battling the clouds.

Each year during mid-to-late October, Earth passes through a stream of debris from the passing of Halley's Comet. The debris appears in the sky as shooting stars, according to Science.nasa.gov.

What will the weather be in your viewing area?

Washington State

"A slow-moving storm will bring plenty of clouds to the state," Mussoline said. "There will be showers along and west of the Cascades. Periods of snow can bring a couple of slushy inches above 3,000 feet in the Cascades. Eastern Washington will also have a few showers."

Expect a chilly night as temperatures will range from the 20s in the low-lying valley areas to the 30s and 40s across the rest of the state.

California

"The clearest skies will be across the central part of the state," said AccuWeather Meteorologist Andy Mussoline. "It will be cloudy in the northern part of the state, with some additional clouds in SoCal."

Temperatures during the early morning hours will range from the 30s in far northern California to the 60s in the south.

Montana

"It will be breezy and cold across most of the state," Mussoline said. "Plenty of clouds will limit the views and some spotty showers are possible."

Dress warm as the temperatures will be in the 20s in the northwest to the 30s in the east.

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Wisconsin

The sky should be clear for viewing the meteor shower. "It will be seasonably cool, with temperatures in the 30s," stated Mussoline.

South Dakota

Viewing conditions should be good for those in the central and eastern parts of South Dakota.

"While there will be numerous clouds the northwest part of the state, patchy cloud cover across the central and eastern areas should allow for decent views," said Mussoline.

The temperatures will be in the 30s in western South Dakota and in the 40s for the rest of the state.

Texas

Cloudy conditions will develop over the southern and eastern parts of the state, making for poor views of the meteors. "The panhandle and West Texas will have mostly clear skies," Mussoline said.

Temperatures will range from the 40s in the northern Panhandle to the 60s and 70s farther south and east.

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Florida

"With a strengthening high pressure system in place, most of the state will have clear skies," said Mussoline. "There may be some patch cloud cover over the south due to the humid conditions."

In the north, the temperatures will be in the 40s. Southern Florida will have temperatures in the 70s.

New York

"A slow-moving storm will bring widespread clouds across most of New York," said Mussoline.

New York City into Long Island should have some viewing time as only a few clouds will be in the area. Showers are possible in the central and northern areas.

The temperature will range from the 30s in the higher elevations to the 40s for the rest of the state.

During the peak hours of the shower, about 25 meteors per hour will be visible. The best time to see the most meteors will be one to two hours before sunrise on Sunday morning.

The meteors will emerge from a small area near the shoulder of the Constellation Orion, then travel across the entire sky.

Traveling at speeds near 148,000 mph, the meteoroids will strike the Earth's atmosphere. The meteoroids may explode when they make contact. The Orionid fireball from the explosion will occasionally leave a trail of incandescent debris as it streaks across the sky. This smoky trail can linger in the sky for a few minutes.

"The Orionid meteor shower isn't the strongest, but it is one of the most beautiful showers of the year," said Bill Cooke, head of NASA's Meteoroid Environmental Office.

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