Orionid Meteor Shower to Peak This Week

Orionid Meteor Shower to Peak This Week

The Orionid meteor shower happens annually when the Earth ploughs through dusty debris from Halley's Comet, named after astronomer Edmond Halley, who determined the comet's periodicity and contributed to further knowledge of the solar system.

He concluded that these three comets were actually the same comet returning over and over again, and predicted the comet would come again in 1758.

The comet is known as a "periodic" comet which means it has an orbital time cycle of less than 200 years.

Tomorrow you might spot some incredible meteor action - but you'll have to get up earlyWhere is the best place in the United Kingdom to watch the Orionid meteor shower?

This is the most famous comet on the astronomical calendar because it's visible to the naked eye and also because it can be seen twice in a human lifetime thanks to its appearance in our skies every 74 to 79 years.

While the Orionid shower runs from October 2 to November 7 this year, the heavenly theatrics will be most robust in the predawn hours of Saturday when the greatest number of meteors are expected to slip into Earth's atmosphere.

Experts say the best time to view the shower is after midnight and before dawn.

Orionid meteors are known to travel at around 41 miles per second, and with clear, dark skies you will have a good chance of spotting one with its persistent, long trail. The radiant, or apparent point of origin, for this shower will be near the red giant Alpha Orionis (Betelguese), but meteors may occur from any point in the sky.

Although the number of Orionids can not rival the three major meteor showers of the year - the Quadrantids, Perseids and Geminids - they are known for consistency in intensity and convenience for observation, as they are both bright and positioned near the zenith, the museum said.

This year, the waxing crescent moon sets well before midnight on October 21, leaving the morning hours dark for meteor watching.

The meteors radiate from the Orion constellation, but you don't have to be looking at Orion to see the meteors.

Also, keep in mind to wrap up warm before heading out to stargaze in the middle of the night.

All you will need to enjoy the Orionids will be a comfortable deck chair and some blankets to protect you from the chilly spring temperatures.