What Time To See Orionid Meteor Shower, Uranus by the Light of October's Hunter's Full Moon

The Orionids meteor shower will peak early on Thursday morning with the spectacle coinciding with October's Hunter's Moon.

This won't be the only astronomical event for amateur star and planet watchers to glimpse on Thursday, however. In the evening, astronomers will have the chance to spot Uranus, the seventh planet from the sun, with the naked eye.

When the Orionids peak at around 2 am ET on Thursday morning as many as 20 or so meteors per hour are predicted to be visible in the night sky over Earth. They will be framed by the full Hunter's Moon.

Not only will observers be able to look up into the night sky and watch the meteors streak at around 41 miles per second, but a few hours later on Thursday evening, the light of the then waning Hunter's Moon will also make Uranus, the third-largest planet in the solar system, more visible than usual.

The ice giant planet Uranus exists at an average distance from the Earth of about 1.8 billion miles. From now to early November, the cold and windy planet, surrounded by 13 rings and 27 tiny moons, will easier to see, as it moves in opposition to the sun.

Usually, the ice giant, one of two in the solar system (the other being Neptune) is so distant and faint that even with its tremendous diameter of around 30,000 miles, four times that of Earth, it is a faint blue-green speck in the night sky, difficult to distinguish with anything less than binoculars.

Orionids
An image of the Orionids meteor shower taken in 2015. Each years the Earth passes through a field of debris left behind by Halley's Comet. JPL/NASA

Spotting the Orionids, an annual event that happens when Earth's journey around the sun passes through icy and dusty debris left by Halley's Comet, should be as easy as looking up to the night sky.

There is no predicting exactly where the meteors will strike the Earth's atmosphere creating glowing trails and the occasional momentary flash of light.

"Come prepared with a sleeping bag, blanket, or lawn chair. Lie flat on your back with your feet facing southeast if you are in the Northern Hemisphere or northeast if you are in the Southern Hemisphere, and look up, taking in as much of the sky as possible," NASA says on its Solar System Exploration website.

"In less than 30 minutes in the dark, your eyes will adapt and you will begin to see meteors. Be patient—the show will last until dawn, so you have plenty of time to catch a glimpse."

Spotting Uranus that evening may take a little more precision, however, as the ice giant will be visible right by where the waning Hunter's Moon rises. So, looking in a direction slightly to the north of due east to where the near-full moon rises should reveal Uranus.

For a more precise observation time, budding planet spotters can check the times of the moonrise in their location on Time and Date's Moonrise and Moonset Calculator.

Unfortunately, seeing the rings of Uranus with the naked eye, binoculars, or even a commercially available telescope is out of the question.

Amateur astronomers using a larger telescope may be able to make out two of its brighter moons, Oberon, and Titania. The ice giant's other large moons lie too close to the bright surface of the planet to be clearly distinguished.

Uranus
A stock illustration of the ice giant Uranus, the seventh planet from the sun and the third largest in the solar system. The windy and icy world will be visible with the naked eye on Thursday evening thanks to the light of the waning Hunter's Moon. buradaki/getty