The Orionid Meteor Shower Observed Over 70 Years


Visual Orionid meteor data dating back to 1944 were transformed into the standard format of the Visual Meteor Data Base (VMDB) of the International Meteor Organization (IMO) for systematic analysis. The strong 2006 Orionid return with a very low population index (r = 1.6) and a peak ZHR of 60 (about 2.5 of the average peak strength) resembled meteor showers connected with the returns of resonant meteoroids. An investigation of data dating back to 1928 yielded similar rate enhancements in 1936, further supporting the assumption that meteoroids trapped in the 1:6 resonance with Jupiter caused the unusual 2006 Orionid return.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4
Fig. 5


  1. R. Arlt, G. Barentsen, Bulletin 21 of the International Leonid Watch: global analysis of visual observations of the 2006 Leonid meteor shower. IMO J. WGN 34, 163–168 (2006)

    ADS  Google Scholar 

  2. R. Arlt, J. Rendtel, P. Brown, V. Velkov, W.K. Hocking, J. Jones, The 1998 outburst and history of the June Boötid meteor shower. Monthly Notices Roy. Astron. Soc. 308, 887–896 (1999)

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  3. D.J. Asher, V.V. Emel’yanenko, The origin of the June Bootid outburst in 1998 and determination of cometary ejection velocities. Monthly Notices Roy. Astron. Soc. 331, 126–132 (2002)

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  4. D.J. Asher, M.E. Bailey, V.V. Emel’yanenko, Resonant meteoroids from Comet Tempel-Tuttle in 1333: the cause of the unexpected Leonid outburst in 1998. Monthly Notices Roy. Astron. Soc. 304, L53–L56 (1999)

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  5. A. Dubietis, Long-term activity of meteor showers from Comet 1P/Halley. IMO J. WGN 31, 43–48 (2003)

    ADS  Google Scholar 

  6. V.V. Emel’yanenko, Resonance structure of meteoroid streams. in Proceedings of the Meteoroids 2001 Conference, ed. by B. Warmbein. ESA Publications Division (ESA SP-495) Noordwijk, Kiruna, 6–10 August 2001, pp. 43–45

  7. A. Hajduk, Structure of the meteor stream associated with comet Halley. Bull. Astron. Inst. Czechosl. 21, 37–45 (1970)

    ADS  Google Scholar 

  8. P. Jenniskens, Meteor Showers and their Parent Comets (Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2006), 802 pp

  9. A.C.B. Lovell, Meteor Astronomy (Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1954), 463 pp

  10. B.A. McIntosh, J. Jones, The Halley Comet meteor stream—numerical modelling of its dynamic evolution. Monthly Notices Roy. Astron. Soc. 235, 673–693 (1988)

    ADS  Google Scholar 

  11. P.M. Millman, Observations of the Orionids in 1936. J. Roy. Astron. Soc. Can. 30, 416–418 (1936)

    ADS  Google Scholar 

  12. C.P. Olivier, Report of the American Meteor Society for 1919–1925. Publ. Leander McCormick Obs. 5, 1–49 (1935)

  13. V. Porubčan, A. Hajduk, B.A. McIntosh, Visual meteor results from the International Halley Watch. Bull. Astron. Inst. Czechosl. 42, 199–204 (1991)

    ADS  Google Scholar 

  14. J.P.M. Prentice, The radiants of the Orionid meteor shower. J. Br. Astron. Assoc. 46, 329–336 (1936)

    Google Scholar 

  15. J.P.M. Prentice, The radiants of the Orionid meteor shower. J. Br. Astron. Assoc. 49, 148–153 (1939)

    Google Scholar 

  16. J. Rendtel, Three days of enhanced Orionid activity in 2006—meteoroids from a resonance region? IMO J. WGN 35, 41–45 (2007)

    ADS  Google Scholar 

  17. J. Rendtel, H. Betlem, Orionid meteor activity on Oct. 18, 1993. IMO J. WGN 21, 264–268 (1993)

    ADS  Google Scholar 

  18. J. Rendtel, R. Arlt, A. McBeath, Handbook for Visual Meteor Observers IMO Monograph No. 2, International Meteor Organization, Potsdam, 1995

  19. J. Rendtel, R. Arlt, V. Velkov, Surprising activity of the 1998 June Bootids. IMO J. WGN 26, 165–172 (1998)

    ADS  Google Scholar 

  20. G. Ryabova, The Comet Halley meteoroid stream: just one more model. Monthly Notices Roy. Astron. Soc. 341, 739–746 (2003)

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  21. M. Sato, J. Watanabe, Origin of the 2006 Orionid outburst. Publ. Astron. Soc. Japan 59, L1–L4 (2007)

  22. P. Spurný, L. Shrbený, Exceptional fireball activity of Orionids 2006. Earth Moon Planets (2007, this issue)

  23. J. Štohl, V. Porubčan, Orionid meteor shower—activity and magnitude description. Contr. Astr. Obs. Skalnaté Pleso 10, 39–51 (1981)

    ADS  Google Scholar 

  24. J. Tóth, L. Kornoš, V. Porubčan, Photographic Leonids 1998 observed at Modra observatory. Earth Moon Planets 82/83, 285–294 (1998)

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  25. J.M. Trigo-Rodriguez, J.M. Madiedo, J. Llorca, P.S. Gural, P. Pujols, T. Tezel, The 2006 Orionid outburst imaged by all-sky CCD cameras from Spain: meteoroid spatial fluxes and orbital elements. Monthly Notices Roy. Astron. Soc. 380, 126–132 (2007)

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  26. J. Zvolánková, Dependence of the observed rate of meteors on the Zenith distance of the radiant. Bull. Astron. Inst. Czechosl. 34, 122–128 (1983)

    ADS  Google Scholar 

Download references


We thank all observers for sending their data to the IMO’s VMDB. Most of the 2006 data input was performed by Rainer Arlt with the assistance of Javor Kac. Pierre Bader, Frank Enzlein, Ulrich Sperberg and Roland Winkler made substantial additions, especially of the older data. David Asher of Armagh gave very useful comments on the role of stream meteoroids in resonant orbits. Thanks also to Peter Jenniskens, Robert Hawkes and Frans Rietmeijer for useful comments during the referee process.

Author information



Corresponding author

Correspondence to Jürgen Rendtel.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Rendtel, J. The Orionid Meteor Shower Observed Over 70 Years. Earth Moon Planet 102, 103–110 (2008).

Download citation


  • Meteors
  • Meteor showers
  • Orionids
  • Outburst
  • Resonant meteoroids