orionids-2012-sky-mapThe Orionid meteor shower will put on a spectacular show of celestial rock and fire this weekend, and you can watch the whole thing online. The meteor shower will be at its peak, Space.com said, during the early morning hours on Sunday, particularly just before the sun emerges from sleep.

“Earth is passing through a stream of debris from Halley’s Comet, the source of the Orionids,” meteor expert Bill Cooke of NASA’s Meteoroid Environment Office said in a statement. “Flakes of comet dust hitting the atmosphere should give us dozens of meteors per hour.”

If bad weather or city light pollution prevents you from seeing the show first-hand, NASA will begin live-streaming tonight at 11 p.m. EDT, and end at 3 a.m. EDT on Sunday. In addition, astronomer Mitzi Adams will be available to answer questions live, giving sky-gazers a unique perspective on the big event.

By sheer coincidence, Saturday (today) is Astronomy Day, so if you do have the opportunity to find a dark corner of the country, it’ll be one big day of appreciation.

“In addition to Orionids, you’ll see brilliant Venus, red Mars, the dog star Sirius and bright winter constellations such as Orion, Gemini and Taurus,” NASA said.

It’s currently cloudy here in Southern California, with a forecast for rain tomorrow, meaning no meteor shower for me. But hopefully the live stream will be a source of entertainment.

[via Space]