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When is the Orionid meteor shower 2017? Peak times and where to see this month's dazzling astronomical display

Mirror logo Mirror 20/10/2017 Jeff Parsons
a blue sky: Credits: Justin-Ng © Provided by Trinity Mirror Shared Services Limited Credits: Justin-Ng

October is an excellent month for stargazing enthusiasts.

Beyond the arrival of the Harvest moon, we also have the annual Orionid meteor shower promising to light up the night sky with as many as 30 meteors per hour.

The Orionids occur every year in October and occurs as debris from Halley's comet comes into contact with the Earth's atmosphere.

Credits: Wales Online © Provided by Trinity Mirror Shared Services Limited Credits: Wales Online You won't need a telescope or binoculars to appreciate the shower - just make sure you can get as far away from light pollution as possible.

Here's everything you need to know about the upcoming Orionid Meteor Shower

When can I see the Orionid meteor shower?

a night sky with stars: Credits: NASA/JPL © Provided by Trinity Mirror Shared Services Limited Credits: NASA/JPL The meteor shower is visible throughout October, but it hits its peak on the nights of the 20th and 21st of October.

That's when it's possible to see between 15 and 30 meteors every hour.

Even if you don't catch it on those dates, the meteor shower continues until around November 7th.

What is the Orionid meteor shower?

a sunset over a body of water: Credits: Kev Lewis/Flickr Creative Commons © Provided by Trinity Mirror Shared Services Limited Credits: Kev Lewis/Flickr Creative Commons The Orionid shower is created by debris from Halley's Comet that comes into contact with the Earth every October.

This is the point in the year when our orbit intersects that of the stream of debris left by the comet and it burns up in our atmosphere - usually at a speed of around 66 kilometers a second.

Although the comet itself is only visible from Earth every 75 years (the last time was in 1986) it's debris still causes the impressive meteor shower.

Because the fragments are travelling so fast, they burn up briefly and brightly in the sky. Perfect for stargazers.

When is the best time to see the meteors?

a man in a dark sky: Credits: John Flannery/Flickr Creative Commons © Provided by Trinity Mirror Shared Services Limited Credits: John Flannery/Flickr Creative Commons The right time to spot the meteors is right before dawn. And, as with any stargazing it's best to be far away from any interfering lights - like streetlamps or house lights.

For the best view, pack a sleeping bag and lie on your back looking up.

What time does the Orionid meteor shower start?

a night sky with the sun behind them: Credits: Getty © Provided by Trinity Mirror Shared Services Limited Credits: Getty UK-based stargazers are advised to get as far north as possible to escape light pollution from cities.

National parks are a particularly good option.

Northumberland National Park is Europe’s largest area of protected night sky, it was awarded gold tier designation by the International Dark Sky Association, making it officially the best place in England for people to go to enjoy the heavens.

Do I need a telescope?

a star in the sky © Provided by Trinity Mirror Shared Services Limited

No, the Orionid meteor shower is visible with the naked eye.

Why is it called the Orionid meteor shower?

Meteor showers are named by the region of the sky they appear to come from.

In the case of the Orionid, it's from the Orion region dominated by the bright Rigel and Betelgeuse stars.

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