Photographers and amateur astronomers alike are about to be treated to a awe-inspiring display of shooting stars, with the annular return of the Orionid meteor shower in the coming days. Weather depending, experts anticipate people can spot as many as 25 shooting stars every hour, with particularly dark skies momentarily illuminated by flashes supplied by the cosmos. But first timers may be wondering how to watch the 2020 Orionid meteor shower – fortunately Express.co.uk is on hand to tell you what you need to know.

What is the Orionid meteor shower?

Each time that Halley returns to the inner solar system its nucleus sheds ice and rocky dust into space

NASA

Meteor showers in general occur when our blue planet passes through a stream of cosmic residue left behind by a comet.

The annual Orionids event is generated from the sand-sized debris left behind by Comet 1P/Halley, which is more commonly known as Halley’s Comet.

This most famous comet of them all only passes Earth every 75 to 76 years.

However, the flotsam and jetsam it leaves behind is more than capable of creating a more-than memorable sight which appears like shooting stars in the night sky.

US-based space agency NASA said in a statement: “Each time that Halley returns to the inner solar system its nucleus sheds ice and rocky dust into space.

“The dust grains eventually become the Orionids in October and the Eta Aquarids in May if they collide with Earth’s atmosphere.”

The surprisingly tiny particles are responsible for the light trail zipping through the night sky as they incinerate in Earth’s thick atmosphere.

And the fact these particles actually originate from the Orion area, gives the shooting stars their name.

When is the best time to see the Orionid meteor shower?

The Orionids have long been known to reliably peak in mid-October.

However, the best time to catch the shooting stars this year will be on Wednesday, October 21 at approximately midnight BST.

Orionids are one of the most eagerly-anticipated meteor events of the year, due to their brightness and speed, which is why they are commonly dubbed “one of the most beautiful showers of the year”.

They slam into our atmosphere at approximately 148,000mph (66km/s).

They then proceed to travel through the exosphere, thermosphere and are certain to have totally burned-out by the mesosphere.

This journey allows these meteors to leave beautiful “trains”, some of which can linger for several seconds.

The Orionids are actually the second meteor shower of October, with the Draconids making an appearance last week.

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How to watch the 2020 Orionid meteor shower?

The Orionids are actually easily visible – even with the naked eye.

Asa result, there is no need for expensive astronomical equipment, such as binoculars and telescopes.

The most important things beginners need to bring with them is plenty of patience.

Astronomers at London’s Royal Museum of Greenwich suggest stargazers to bring a comfy chair and warm clothes to prevent getting a chill on what promises to be a cold night.

The shooting star shower is best viewable until dawn – weather permitting.

This means there is plenty of time to enjoy the spectacle.

The Orionid meteors can be seen in all parts of the sky.

But, for the best conditions you should look for a position away from light pollution.

The best bet is to choose wide-open spaces where people can easily scan the night sky.

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