What is the Orionids Meteor Shower?
The Orionids is a spectacular meteor shower caused by debris from Halley’s Comet – a major celestial body that passes by Earth every 76 years.
The comet has not been visible from Earth since 1986 but we pass through its orbit twice a year – causing the Orionids and the Eta Aquarids shower in May.
As Earth passes through Halley’s orbit pieces of rock pass into our upper atmosphere and disintegrate, causing the night-time display.
Why is it called the Orionids?
The shower appears to emerge from the constellation Orion – one of the brightest groups of stars in the sky.
The constellation is home to Rigel and Betelgeuse, as well as Orion”s belt which is made up of three bright stars in a straight line.
When and what time is the Orionids Meteor Shower?
The shower is active throughout October but will be most visible this week from Thursday October 20 until Sunday October 23.
The best time to watch the shower is between midnight and dawn, when the sky is darkest.
Where is the best place to watch the Orionids Meteor Shower?
Stargazers are advised to head to the countryside, as light-polluted city skies will make the shower difficult to see.
The Met Office has forecast clear, dark skies, however the light of the recent Hunter”s Moon might make the Orionids appear slightly fainter than usual.
How to watch the Orionids Meteor Shower
The shower should be visible to the naked eye and there is no need for a telescope.
Astronomy fans should find a comfortable spot before midnight and let their eyes adjust to the dark sky.
There is a better chance of seeing the shower lying down and looking straight up at the sky rather than just looking in one direction.
At the shower’s peak there will be around 25 shooting stars an hour travelling at around 41 miles per second, leaving behind a long trail.