Halley debris lights up sky

2014-10-20 17:28
A meteor streaks across the sky against a field of stars during a meteor shower near Grazalema, Spain. (Jorge Guerrero, AFP, file)

A meteor streaks across the sky against a field of stars during a meteor shower near Grazalema, Spain. (Jorge Guerrero, AFP, file)

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Cape Town - Between midnight and dawn on Tuesday morning, 21 October the meteor stream of the famous Halley's Comet will cause shooting stars to be visible in the night sky.

The EarthSky site reports "The meteors will become visible in their greatest numbers tonight, and especially in the dark hours before dawn tomorrow morning [21 October]. At the peak, from a dark site, you might expect to see about 25 meteors per hour."

The best time will be when the night is darkest just before dawn around 04:00.

The shooting stars, or meteors, are actually chunks of ice and dust streaking through space. As the comet travells through space it sheds debris which eventually passes through earth's atmosphere.

Halley's Comet last visited Earth in 1986 and will return next in 2061. Debris in the orbit of this comet – the Orionid meteor stream – is now encountering Earth’s atmosphere which we will see as shooting stars.

The next meteor shower will be on 18 November and is known as the Leonids shower.

Meteors are difficult to observe unless you are an experienced observer viewing from a rural location.

Have fun.

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Read more on:    space

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