Science UK

Orionid meteor display set to light up night skies tonight

Skygazers are set for some celestial fireworks as Earth passes through an area of space “littered” with the debris of Halley’s Comet.

The Orionid meteor is active throughout October, but is expected to peak at around 11.30pm tonight (October 21), producing 20 or so meteors every hour.

Most people across the UK will get the chance to view the phenomenon, the weather forecasters have predicted.

According to the Met Office, there will be a ridge of high pressure across the UK on Monday evening, producing dry weather and clear skies for most.

While some in the far north west and far south east of the country may have some clouds to contend with, most will get a good view.

Anna Ross, an astronomer at the Royal Observatory Greenwich, said: “Meteors will be visible all over the sky but they will appear to originate from close to the star Betelgeuse in the constellation of Orion, which will be in the east of the sky during that peak time.”

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

Ms Ross aadded: “As both the Earth and Halley’s comet have elliptical orbits around the Sun, these two intersect twice per year.

“This causes not only the Orionids, but also the Eta Aquarids meteor shower in May.”

The Orionids will be visible in both northern and southern hemispheres until November 7.

Ms Ross said: For the best chances to spot the Orionids, find a dark area of clear sky and allow around 20 minutes to let your eyes adapt to the dark.




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