Meteor shower 2018: When is next meteor shower – When are Orionids? | Science | News

The Orionid light show should be at its best in the predawn hours of October 21 and the following few mornings.

Eagle-eyed sky-watchers could see many as 20 shooting stars an hour during the peak.

often arrive in the night skies in brilliant spurts followed by lulls.

Each Orionid is a piece of vaporised debris shed by the famed Halley’s Comet as it passes through our inner solar system during its 75-year orbit around the sun.

Particles shed by the comet slam into our upper atmosphere, where they burn up at some 60 miles above the Earth’s surface.

The Orionids owe their name because they appear to radiate from their namesake constellation, Orion the hunter, which rises in the northeast around midnight at this time of the year.

Orion is one of the easiest star patterns to recognise due to the distinctive three bright stars that line up along its middle, marking the mythical figure’s belt.

This year’s show will compete with the glare of the brilliant waxing gibbous moon for much of the night.

Some experts are expecting a possible upswing in Orionid activity in 2018.

No special equipment is required to enjoy the spectacle – all that’s needed is an open sky away from artificial lights.

Halley’s Comet last visited Earth in 1986 and will return next in 2061.

Give yourself at least 20 minutes for your eyes to adapt to the darkness, and give yourself at least an hour of viewing time.

The American Meteor Society (AMS) describes the October to December shower period as “a nearly continuous period of heavy meteor activity.”

Robert Lunsford of the AMS said: “ The Orionids are the big story of the month reaching maximum activity on the 22nd.

“This display can be seen equally well from both hemispheres which definitely helps out observers located in the sporadic-poor southern hemisphere this time of year.

“Sporadic activity is still good as seen from the northern hemisphere. In the southern hemisphere though, the sporadic activity is near its annual nadir.”

Many of the showers are well known, as they “occur annually or at regular intervals as the Earth passes through the trail of dusty debris left by a comet,” according to NASA’s Planetary Science Division.

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