SKYGAZERS are treated to a celestial spectacle this weekend as a meteor shower lights up the sky with a special surprise.
Dust from the famous Halley’s Comet will be part of the exhibition, which is a great opportunity to see some shooting stars.
It coincides each year with the Orionids meteor shower, which runs through late October.
The event is expected to peak on October 21 with up to 25 visible meteors per hour, pending weather conditions.
Observers in the UK and US can also get a good look at October 22nd.
And they should be visible to the naked eye, eliminating the need for binoculars.
“Catching meteors, like the rest of astronomy, is a waiting game so it’s best to bring a comfortable chair to sit in and dress warmly as you might be out for a while,” warned the Royal Observatory in Greenwich .
“They can be seen with the naked eye, so binoculars or a telescope aren’t necessary, although you do need to allow your eyes to adjust to the darkness.
“Showers will continue at a reduced rate for a few days on either side of the maximum. So if the moon obscures the peak, you might be able to catch a few more throughout October.”
Unfortunately, we won’t see the best of Halley’s Comet, as it only passes a nearby Earth about once every 75 years.
The next chance to see it is not until July 2061.
What is Halley’s Comet?
Dubbed the “most famous comet,” Halley’s Comet was named after the English astronomer Edmond Halley, who studied reports of comets approaching Earth in 1531, 1607, and 1682.
He concluded that these three comets were in fact the same comet that kept coming back and predicted that the comet would come again in 1758.
Halley did not live to see the comet’s return, but his discovery led to the comet being named after him.
The comet is known as a “periodic” comet, meaning it has an orbital cycle of less than 200 years.
It returns near the earth about every 75 years, so a human can see it twice in a lifetime.
It was last here in 1986 and is expected to return in 2061.
What does this have to do with the Orionid meteor shower?
The Orionid meteor shower is a scientific phenomenon that occurs every October.
According to the Met Office, the Orionids are a vestige of Comet Halley, and at its peak you could see up to 20 shooting stars an hour.
Orionid meteors are known to travel at around 41 miles per second, and under clear, dark skies you have a good chance of spotting one with its sustained, long trail.
The meteor shower is so named because it appears to be emanating from the constellation of Orion, which is one of the most visible and recognizable in the sky worldwide.
You don’t have to stare at Orion to spot the meteors, however, as they can actually appear anywhere in the sky.
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https://www.thesun.ie/tech/9603513/orionids-meteor-shower-watch-halleys-comet-fireballs/ Orionid Meteor Shower – watch the fireballs of Halley’s Comet soar overhead this weekend