Question: What does Orion know that I don’t?

This morning at 5AM, dark as midnight, I was making the early rounds of my nature-preserve, and, looking upward, watched as a stunning meteor flew from between Orion’s leggies and thence straight to Cassiopeia, the ‘Seven Sisters’. Not sure which one of them got knocked up, as they say. The shooting star then continued in a straight path until, spent, it blinked out, almost on the NW horizon.

Yes, this is the yearly Orionid shower, when the Earth passes through the crumbs left by Halley’s Comet. I’m happy enough to have seen one, but it raised anew a nagging question that I’m embarrassed to admit I have:
“How and why, geometrically or astronomically, can the majority of the meteors seem to ‘radiate’ from the constellation of Orion?

Follow my thinking here: I shove the kitchen table to the center of the room, put a basketball in the center (The Sun) and then place a pool ball somewhere on the table. That’s the earth, spinning like a top 365+/- times as it makes one circle per year, on the table, around the basketball. the half of the pool-ball facing away from the Sun is my night-time. And I see different ‘fixed’ stars each night as I gaze upwards, or in the model, toward the walls of the kitchen, where they all ‘live’.
Now, meteors: I carefully spill a track of, say, sugar, in a line crossing my pool-balls route on the table. This is Halley’s cosmic debris, and I make sure that it happens in late October. which in the model is the corner of the table facing the pantry walls, upon which I’ve drawn Orion the Great Hunter. (Yes, I actually did this; trouble sleeping until I ‘get it’.
And so, spinning counter-clockwise viewed from above, the Earth/pool-ball runs into the space junk and we see fireworks. More so past midnight, when they hit the side of earth facing the direction of travel.
But WHY-THE-F*CK should they appear to all be coming from the pantry door??? I’m not even going to offer an explanation, cuz mainly, I haven’t one.
Anyone know?/ ‘Sleepless near Tel Aviv’


5 thoughts on “Question: What does Orion know that I don’t?

  1. Ilana MacDonald

    Heyo! I’m the newly PhD-ed daughter of Eleanorio! I think I can answer your question. So you’re right in the basic set-up of the reason for seeing meteor showers at a certain time of year. Meteor showers are caused by a stream of debris left in the path of a comet which enters the Earth’s atmosphere when we pass through that stream at certain points during the year. Now why does it appear to be radiating roughly from Orion? Well, that’s mostly a matter of perspective. The meteors are all entering the Earth’s atmosphere along parallel paths and with the same velocity as we pass through the stream. Just like the edges of a long straight road appear to converge at the horizon, the paths of the meteors appear to converge at a certain point on the sky, which in the case of the Orionids, is in the constellation Orion since the point at which the Earth is entering the stream of debris is in line with that constellation. However, this radiant point will move across the sky during the night because of the rotation of the Earth, just as the stars move across the sky over one night, and will also move from night to night relative to the background stars (a phenomenon called radiant drift) because of the motion of the Earth around the Sun.

    I hope that answers your question!

    1. solberg73 Post author

      Hi there, and I’m so grateful for your clear answer. i stubbornly refused to research it myself, preferring to either ‘think it out’ or rely on the kindness of ‘strangers’♥
      I must say that early this morning it did occur to me that the earth’s orbital track has a ‘tangent’ at any particular date, and that this tangent ‘points’ toward a particular fixed star group. The debris of course has its own residual momentum, from the comet’s track, and so, in 3D, it’s complicated, as they say.
      Again, tickled to read your explanation. I can now sleep at night, pending the next puzzlement/ JS
      (This reply may possible be mangled, since WP is today refusing to blink out the ‘Enter your reply here’ text. I hate this site’s bugginess.


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