Tommy Eliassen
Photographer Tommy Eliassen captured this spectacular view of an Orionid meteor streaking through the dazzling northern lights and Milky Way from his camp in Korgfjellet, Hemnes, Norway, on Oct. 20, during the peak of the 2012 Orionid meteor shower.
By
updated 10/21/2012 12:40:23 PM ET 2012-10-21T16:40:23

The Orionid meteor shower is raining bits of the famed Halley's Comet on Earth this weekend to the delight of stargazers around the world.

The 2012 Orionid meteor shower peaked early Sunday, with forecasters predicting up to 25 meteors an hour for patient stargazers with clear skies well away from city lights. Based on accounts sent into SPACE.com, the meteor shower did not disappoint.

In Norway, photographer Tommy Eliassen captured a spectacular view of the Orionids and Earth's dazzling northern lights.

"An Orionid meteor streaking over the sky, the aurora borealis in the northern horizon and the Milky Way over my camp," Eliassen told SPACE.com in an email from Korgfjellet, Hemnes in Norway. "A very cold but perfect night to photograph the Orionid meteor shower." [Amazing Orionid Meteor Shower Photos of 2012]

In Clinton Township, Mich., observer Dale Mayotte said this year's Orionid meteor display was extra special for him since he finally managed to catch a meteor on camera.

photo of a meteor during the peak of the 2012 Orionid shower
Dale Mayotte
Observer Dale Mayotte snapped this photo of a meteor during the peak of the 2012 Orionid meteor shower on Oct. 21, from Clinton township in Michigan. It was Mayotte's 38th birthday, an "excellent present," he said.

"It only took me about 700 pictures to get this one beautiful meteor, but this is the first one I have ever captured and it happened on my 38th birthday for an EXCELLENT present to myself," Mayotte told SPACE.com in an email. "Sitting in the cold for 2.5 hours was well worth this result."

The Orionid meteor shower occur every October when the Earth passes through a stream of dust left over by Halley's Comet. They appear to radiate out of the well-known constellation Orion, which is why they are called the Orionids.

The meteors flare up in brilliant displays when they streak through Earth's atmosphere at about 65 kilometers per second (that's nearly 150,000 mph), according to NASA astronomer Mitzi Adams.

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Adams hosted a live Web chat of the Orionid meteor shower late Saturday and early Sunday from NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., where a camera beamed live views of the "shooting stars" display across the Internet.

Adams assured her Web chat audience that there will be Orionid meteors visible in the night sky tonight night and early Monday, just not as many as at the peak time between 3 a.m. and 6 a.m. local time this morning.

The Orionids are one of two meteor showers created by Halley's Comet each year. The Earth passes through a second stream of the comet's debris in May, leading to the Eta Aquarid meteor shower.

The next major meteor shower to light up the night sky will be the annual Leonid meteor shower in mid-November. It will peak on Nov. 17.

Editor's Note: If you snapped any photos of the Orionid meteor shower (or any other amazing night sky sight) and want to share them with SPACE.com, send the pictures, comments and location info to managing editor Tariq Malik at tmalik@space.com.

You can follow SPACE.com Managing Editor Tariq Malik on Twitter@tariqjmalikand SPACE.com on Twitter @Spacedotcom. We're also onFacebook&Google+.

© 2013 Space.com. All rights reserved. More from Space.com.

Photos: Month in Space: January 2014

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  1. Southern stargazing

    Stars, galaxies and nebulas dot the skies over the European Southern Observatory's La Silla Paranal Observatory in Chile, in a picture released on Jan. 7. This image also shows three of the four movable units that feed light into the Very Large Telescope Interferometer, the world's most advanced optical instrument. Combining to form one larger telescope, they are greater than the sum of their parts: They reveal details that would otherwise be visible only through a telescope as large as the distance between them. (Y. Beletsky / ESO) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. A balloon's view

    Cameras captured the Grandville High School RoboDawgs' balloon floating through Earth's upper atmosphere during its ascent on Dec. 28, 2013. The Grandville RoboDawgs’ first winter balloon launch reached an estimated altitude of 130,000 feet, or about 25 miles, according to coaches Mike Evele and Doug Hepfer. It skyrocketed past the team’s previous 100,000-feet record set in June. The RoboDawgs started with just one robotics team in 1998, but they've grown to support more than 30 teams at public schools in Grandville, Mich. (Kyle Moroney / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. Spacemen at work

    Russian cosmonauts Oleg Kotov, right, and Sergey Ryazanskiy perform maintenance on the International Space Station on Jan. 27. During the six-hour, eight-minute spacewalk, Kotov and Ryazanskiy completed the installation of a pair of high-fidelity cameras that experienced connectivity issues during a Dec. 27 spacewalk. The cosmonauts also retrieved scientific gear outside the station's Russian segment. (NASA) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. Special delivery

    The International Space Station's Canadian-built robotic arm moves toward Orbital Sciences Corp.'s Cygnus autonomous cargo craft as it approaches the station for a Jan. 12 delivery. The mountains below are the southwestern Alps. (NASA) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. Accidental art

    A piece of art? A time-lapse photo? A flickering light show? At first glance, this image looks nothing like the images we're used to seeing from the Hubble Space Telescope. But it's a genuine Hubble frame that was released on Jan. 27. Hubble's team suspects that the telescope's Fine Guidance System locked onto a bad guide star, potentially a double star or binary. This caused an error in the tracking system, resulting in a remarkable picture of brightly colored stellar streaks. The prominent red streaks are from stars in the globular cluster NGC 288. (NASA / ESA) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. Supersonic test flight

    A camera looking back over Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo's fuselage shows the rocket burn with a Mojave Desert vista in the background during a test flight of the rocket plane on Jan. 10. Cameras were mounted on the exterior of SpaceShipTwo as well as its carrier airplane, WhiteKnightTwo, to monitor the rocket engine's performance. The test was aimed at setting the stage for honest-to-goodness flights into outer space later this year, and eventual commercial space tours.

    More about SpaceShipTwo on PhotoBlog (Virgin Galactic) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. Red lagoon

    The VLT Survey Telescope at the European Southern Observatory's Paranal Observatory in Chile captured this richly detailed new image of the Lagoon Nebula, released on Jan. 22. This giant cloud of gas and dust is creating intensely bright young stars, and is home to young stellar clusters. This image is a tiny part of just one of 11 public surveys of the sky now in progress using ESO telescopes. (ESO/VPHAS team) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. Fire on the mountain

    This image provided by NASA shows a satellite view of smoke from the Colby Fire, taken by the Multi-angle Imaging SpectroRadiometer aboard NASA's Terra spacecraft as it passed over Southern California on Jan. 16. The fire burned more than 1,863 acres and forced the evacuation of 3,700 people. (NASA via AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. Where stars are born

    An image captured by NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope shows the Orion Nebula, an immense stellar nursery some 1,500 light-years away. This false-color infrared view, released on Jan. 15, spans about 40 light-years across the region. The brightest portion of the nebula is centered on Orion's young, massive, hot stars, known as the Trapezium Cluster. But Spitzer also can detect stars still in the process of formation, seen here in red hues. (NASA / JPL-Caltech) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. Cygnus takes flight

    Orbital Sciences Corp.'s Antares rocket rises from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility on Wallops Island, Va, on Jan. 9. The rocket sent Orbital's Cygnus cargo capsule on its first official resupply mission to the International Space Station. (Chris Perry / NASA) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. A long, long time ago...

    This long-exposure picture from the Hubble Space Telescope, released Jan. 8, is the deepest image ever made of any cluster of galaxies. The cluster known as Abell 2744 appears in the foreground. It contains several hundred galaxies as they looked 3.5 billion years ago. Abell 2744 acts as a gravitational lens to warp space, brightening and magnifying images of nearly 3,000 distant background galaxies. The more distant galaxies appear as they did more than 12 billion years ago, not long after the Big Bang. (NASA / NASA via AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. Frosty halo

    Sun dogs are bright spots that appear in the sky around the sun when light is refracted through ice crystals in the atmosphere. These sun dogs appeared on Jan. 5 amid brutally cold temperatures along Highway 83, north of Bismarck, N.D. The temperature was about 22 degrees below zero Fahrenheit, with a 50-below-zero wind chill.

    Slideshow: The Year in Space (Brian Peterson / The Bismarck Tribune via AP) Back to slideshow navigation
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