The annual Orionid meteor shower is set to peak on Wednesday night, giving sky viewers in the UK the opportunity to witness the celestial spectacle all week long.
According to NASA, the event will bring “prolonged bursts of light,” with 20 “shooting stars” lighting up the sky every hour.
Clouds and rain scattered across many parts of the UK on Wednesday mean the best chance to see the Orionids may be on Thursday, when weather conditions appear more favorable.
The UK Met Office predicted “heavy and persistent rain” on Tuesday and Wednesday, but a “predominantly dry Thursday”.
Despite peaking this week, the Orionid meteor shower will continue to be visible until November 7, having first appeared on October 2.
The best way to see them is by looking at an area of the sky near the raised club above the constellation of Orion, which is best seen just before dawn.
The meteorites will shoot out in all directions, but just above Orion – which is known for its three-star belt.
Named after a hunter from Greek mythology, Orion is one of the most prominent and recognizable constellations, and is located in the southwestern sky in the Northern Hemisphere.
There are various free and premium smartphone apps for both Android and iOS devices that can be used to locate Orion using the phone’s in-built gyroscope.
Useful astronomy apps include Skyview Lite, SkySafari and Sky Map.
When looking at the night sky, NASA recommends taking up to 45 minutes to allow your eyes to adjust to the darkness. People are encouraged not to look at phone screens or other light sources during this time.
Once adjusted, it should be possible to see light trails from meteors with the naked eye, which can last anywhere from a few seconds to minutes.
A recent blog post on NASA’s website stated: “Rapid meteors can sometimes become fireballs: Watch the long bursts of light watching the Orionid meteor shower.”
The US space agency also said hopeful viewers should move to an area that is as far away from urban light pollution as possible.
The International Meteor Organization has said that the 2020 Orionid meteor shower could see an unusually large peak.
Occurring when Earth passes the mark of Halley’s Comet, the Orionids can produce up to 70 meteors per hour in a good year.
Credit: www.independent.co.uk /