Orionid Meteor Shower To Dazzle Onlookers As It Peaks Late This Week

Astronomers are expecting to see about a dozen meteors as Earth passes through an area of space “littered” with the debris of Halley’s Comet.

The Orionid meteors appear every year at this time with showers producing 20 or so meteors every hour.

And here’s everything you need to know about it.

For those who are wondering, this is because the meteor shower appears to emerge from the constellation Orion – which is one of the brightest groups of stars in the sky.

According to Nasa, the shower will be radiant “just to the north of constellation Orion’s bright star Betelgeuse”.

Meteoroids from Halley’s Comet strike Earth’s atmosphere at a speed of 148,000 mph, burning up in streaking flashes of light.

“Earth is passing through a stream of debris from Halley’s Comet, the source of the Orionids,” says Bill Cooke of Nasa‘s Meteoroid Environment Office.

“Bits of comet dust hitting the atmosphere should give us a couple dozen of meteors per hour.”

The shower is active throughout October, but Nasa reckons the best time to see it will be on October 20 between midnight and dawn, when the sky is darkest and the shower will be at its brightest. It is expected to last until October 22.

While the forecast appears to be clear, the light of the moon might make the Orionids – which travel at speeds of around 41 miles (66 kilometers) per second – appear slightly fainter than usual.

Get as far away from all artificial lights as you can and allow at least 45 minutes for your eyes to adjust to the dark. The meteors will be visible to the naked eye.

To maximise the chances of seeing the shower in all its glory, have your back to the moon or make sure it’s hidden behind trees or buildings so the sky isn’t too bright.

Then lie on your back, relax and enjoy the show. And don’t forget to take your blanket.

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