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Orionid meteor shower: Lack of moonlight makes for excellent viewing conditions

21 October 2017

It's time for another meteor shower this weekend.

The "shooting stars" are generated when the meteoroids from Halley's Comet strike Earth's atmosphere at of 148,000mph, (238,000kph), burning up in streaking flashes of light which can be seen with the naked eye.

The Orionids have been visible since October 2 but the shower is set to light up the sky this weekend.

To see the shower, get as far away from city lights as possible.

Space.com notes how, "The particles come from Comet 1P/Halley, better known as Halley's Comet".

"Nonetheless, tonight we have no bright moon to interfere with observations, so dedicated observers might want to try".

The Orionid meteor shower, so named because they appear to originate from the Orion constellation, is visible from anywhere on the planet.

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If the skies are clear enough, you could witnesses up to 20 shooting stars an hour.

Tom Kerss, an astronomer at the Royal Observatory Greenwich, said: "The Orionids is a modest shower, producing around 20 meteors per hour at best under absolutely ideal conditions".

Darkness is key when trying to watch for meteors.

It's the Earth passing through the debris field of Halley's comet, which last passed by our place in space in 1985 and won't return until 2061. Also, moonlight will not interfere since we will have a new moon.

Katherine Hunt, Planetarium Manager at Ingram Planetarium said the best chance to catch a glimpse of the shower is to look to the east early Saturday morning, before dawn.

While falling Orionids will be visible to the naked eye from nearly anywhere in the country, stargazers are advised to steer clear of cities so as to escape light pollution for the best view of the dazzling display.

Orionid meteor shower: Lack of moonlight makes for excellent viewing conditions