How and when to watch this weekend’s Orionid meteor shower

THIS Sunday morning you might have a chance at catching one of the brightest and fastest meteor showers on the astronomical calendar.

The Orionid meteor shower occurs every year in October as debris from Halley’s comet comes into contact with the Earth’s atmosphere.

Although the comet itself is only visible from Earth every 75 years — the next sighting will be 2061 — its debris still causes the impressive meteor shower.

When our orbit intersects the debris, it burns up in our atmosphere at a speed of around 66 kilometres a second.

Orionid meteors have the potential to be visible anywhere on Earth, but Orion’s Sword is the best position in the sky for stargazers to look.

However, finding the astronomical asterism in the constellation Orion is not a necessity — the lack of moonlight from the new moon means you should be able to see it with the naked eye from a wide-open area.

Astronomy programs co-ordinator at the Sydney Observatory Melissa Hulbert said Sunday morning would offer the best chance to see the meteor shower.

“The Orionid meteor shower (which takes its names from the constellation Orion) will appear from October 2 to November 7 but will be the most prolific on October 21,” she told Broadsheet.

“Its [peak] could be within a day either side of this date and is most visible between midnight and a few hours before dawn.

“Away from city lights is ideally where you want to be to see more meteors. Those in the city are most likely to only see the brighter meteors, not the fainter ones.”

Previously the event has offered upwards of 80 meteors per hour have been visible, although this year is expected to be less.

“This year it’s predicted to be at the lower end of the scale, around 20—30 meteors per hour,” she said.

For more real-time information of the best position to look in the night sky click here.

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