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Fall marks return of Orion over Carson Valley

by Amy Roby
Orionid meteors appear every year around this time when Earth travels through an area of space littered with debris from Halley’s Comet.
NASA/JPL

One of my favorite markers of fall is the constellation Orion’s returning visibility in the nighttime sky. After the Big Dipper, Orion was the second constellation I learned to identify, easily distinguishable by its belt: three stars aligned in an upward trajectory that appear fairly evenly spaced apart.

An eastward facing window in our bedroom offers a prime view of “The Hunter” as he rises up each night as though on his side. On a restless night, there’s something comforting about looking outside that window to see the familiar, steady glow of this particular celestial arrangement.

October also brings the return of the annual Orionids meteor shower, so named for the constellation Orion since that’s the point in the sky where the meteors seem to originate. Around this same time each year, Earth passes through the particle trail left over from the path of Halley’s Comet. Scattered comet and asteroid pieces from this particle trail disintegrate as they enter Earth’s atmosphere, resulting in what look like “shooting stars” to us. The Orionids meteor shower is active for about a month and is supposed to peak on Oct. 21 this year.

My dog, Zeke, and I went for a walk this past Sunday at about 7:30 p.m. It was a spectacular evening, calm and cool, and I relished the clarity of stars set against a backdrop of inky night. While looking up in admiration at the Milky Way’s span across the length of sky, I saw what at first appeared to be an airplane. A big, bright light sailed overhead in an arc, but it was moving much too quickly to be a plane. I watched for at least three full seconds, then realized I was looking at a meteor just as the streak of light dissolved into nothingness. The moment felt like a stroke of fortune.

The moon enters a new phase tomorrow and will be early in its waxing phase when the Orionids peak next week. These dark skies help make meteors easier to spot.

NASA’s web page contains some great content related to this annual meteor shower; log onto solarsystem.nasa.gov and type “Orionids” in the search tool for information.

Douglas Disposal sponsors autumn clean up

Douglas Disposal’s fall clean up week is scheduled for Oct. 26-30.

Active weekly residential customers in Nevada can place up to six 32-gallon cans (max weight 50 pounds) and/or bags (max weight 35 pounds) roadside on their regular pickup day. One-foot by three-foot tied bundles will also be accepted. During this event, the extra refuse will be disposed at no extra charge.

Appliances, computers, furniture, TV’s, tires, and hazardous materials are not included in this offer.

To streamline the collection process, Douglas Disposal requests all garbage totes, cans, and/or bags be placed “roadside,” meaning in the gutter or at the drivable road’s edge. Photographic representations of correct placement are available online at douglasdisposal.com.

Call Douglas Disposal with questions at 775-782-5713.

Amy Roby can be reached at ranchosroundup@hotmail.com.