The offspring of Halley's comet are about to put on quite a show over the skies of St. Charles.
Earth passes through a stream of debris from Halley's beginning Oct. 15, which gives us the benefit of the annual Orionid meteor shower, though you probably won't see much until a bit later.
The shower should be at its best the night of Saturday, Oct. 20 until just before dawn on Oct. 21. This year, the moon will be setting at about midnight, which will keep the sky darkened enough that—barring cloud cover—you should be able to see up to 15 meteors per hour.
What makes this shower so cool? First, 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 then, Canis Major, home of Sirius, the brightest star we can see - well, aside from the sun.
Something else 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.
Obviously, you'll have more luck catching the shooting stars if you're in a place not polluted by light.
Broemmelsiek Park in western St. Charles County has a dedicated astronomy site at which the Astronomical Society of Eastern Missouri hosts public star-gazing events each Friday starting at 7 p.m. Plan to head there Friday, Oct. 19.