Orionid meteor shower: Britons set for ‘extra special’ shooting star display TONIGHT

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While the annual event takes place each October, this time the meteors are pieces of the famous Halley’s Comet, which can only be spotted from earth every 75 or 76 years. Lucky viewers will be able to catch a glimpse of the once-in-a lifetime event peaking tonight and tomorrow night. The last time comet Halley was seen by from Earth by casual observers was in 1986.

After this, it will not enter the inner solar system again until 2061.

Spectators will see fast shiny bright streaks of light zoom across the skies as a result of comet Halley moving around sun and leaving behind tiny pieces of dust and icy debris behind it.

Appearing no larger than grains of sand, they pass into the earth’s atmosphere and vaporise, putting on a stunning display.

The optimal conditions for viewing are cloudless, clear skies with minimal pollution, meaning the countryside is likely the best place to spot the phenomenon.

And the darker the sky, the easier it will be to spot the meteor shower too.

But be warned, it will take your eyes less than 30 minutes in the dark to adapt to the sky before you will begin to spot meteors.

If we are lucky enough, a moonless sky could reveal 10 to 20 meteors (shooting stars) to us in just one hour.

Orionids are thought to be one of the most beautiful meteor showers of the year.

Andy McCrea from the Irish Astronomical Association says the Orionid meteor shower is viewed as extra special by some people.

They are best known for their sheer speed and brightness, traveling at about 148,000 mph (66 km/s) into the Earth’s atmosphere.

Extra fast meteors can leave glowing “trains” (incandescent bits of debris in the wake of the meteor) behind which last from several seconds to a few minutes.

When the showers are super quick, they can also become fireballs.

NASA advises looking for prolonged explosions of light when you take a peek at the shooting stars.

They also suggest that you lie flat on your back with your feet facing southeast.

The Orionids were named due to their radiant, the point in the sky from which they appear to be coming from, lies in the constellation of Orion.

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However, the constellation is not the source of the meteors themselves.

Halley’s comet is named after Edmond Halley, who discovered in 1705 that three previous comets return about every 76 years or so.

He figured out that sightings all the same comet, and after he died the comet was named in his Halley’s honour.

Comet Halley is arguably the most famous comet and has been sighted for It is featured on the Bayeux tapestry, which chronicles the Battle of Hastings in 1066.

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