Orionid meteor shower to light up Leicester skies

By Conor de Smith.

The Orionid meteor shower is set to light up the skies above Leicestershire this weekend.

The shower is an annual event that occurs due to debris from the famous Halley’s Comet hitting Earth’s atmosphere.

As many as 30 meteors per hour are expected to be on view and this weekend – notably Sunday at 3am BST – is prime time for star gazers.

The showers will continue until 7 November and are seen best when away from light pollution.

Heavy rain is forecast for Leicester this weekend which might obstruct the views of the falling meteorites.

Halley’s Comet is the only comet visible to the people of Earth without the need for telescopes or binoculars, and comes into view once every 75 years.

As it travels throughout the solar system, the Sun hits it and particles subsequently fall away. These are what will be seen hurtling towards our planet at speeds of 148,000mph.

There is no need to rush to the observatory at the University of Leicester, though, with Astronomer Tom Kerss adamant that eyes will be the only tool the public will need.

“There’s no advantage to using binoculars or a telescope,” he said. “Your eyes are the best tool available for spotting meteors.

“So, relax and gaze up at the sky, and eventually your patience will be rewarded.”