Fireballs from Halley’s comet will soar across skies this month – how to spot Draconids and Orionids
STARGAZERS will be treated to not one but two stunning meteor showers this month and one will be active today.
Both the Draconid meteor shower and the Orionid meteor shower will be lighting up our skies and as the nights draw in you’ll be able to stargaze earlier.
October features two meteor showers[/caption]
How to see the Draconid meteor shower
The Draconids will be the first meteor shower of the month.
It will be active from October 6 to October 10 but will be at its best on Wednesday October 7.
You should start looking for them anytime after dark from October 6.
The Draconids is actually the only shower that’s best to watch just after nightfall and not after midnight.
Sometimes the Draconids only features a handful of meteors per hour.
However, there have been occasions when stargazers have been treated to the sight of thousands of the shooting stars.
The meteors are often too small and fast to spot without a telescope.
If you do want to try and spot them then your best chance will be in a rural area far away from light pollution.
The shooting stars are coming from the direction of the Draco the dragon constellation.
This image was taken in Russia during the Draconids meteor shower in 2018[/caption]
This also happens to be the constellation that they’re named after.
They are created as the Earth passes through the debris from the 21 P/Giacobini-Zinner comet.
The Draconids are well-known for being unpredictable and no one can say for sure how many meteors people will be able to see.
How to see the Orionid meteor shower
The best time to see the Orionids will be on October 21 just after midnight.
The meteors appear to radiate from the Orion constellation but you should be able to spot them all over the sky.
Orionid meteors actually become visible in our skies every year from around October 2nd until November 7.
However, they will be much more visible around their peak towards the end of this month.
The Orionids meteor showers are one of the most spectacular astral shows of the year.
When the conditions of the night are right, dozens of shooting stars can be seen falling from the sky.
When the weather is good and there is limited light pollution, you could see dozens of shooting stars with the naked eye.
Nasa dubs the Orionid meteor shower as “one of the most beautiful meteor showers of the year”.
Each hour about 20 meteors zoom through the skies, at speeds 148,000 mph, the Orionids are one of the most impressive events in the sky’s calendar.
It happens 60 miles up in space, when the Earth moves through a cloud of thousands and thousands of space rocks which would be left behind by the famous Halley’s Comet.
What’s the difference between an asteroid, meteor and comet?
Here’s what you need to know, according to Nasa…
- Asteroid: An asteroid is a small rocky body that orbits the Sun. Most are found in the asteroid belt (between Mars and Jupiter) but they can be found anywhere (including in a path that can impact Earth)
- Meteoroid: When two asteroids hit each other, the small chunks that break off are called meteoroids
- Meteor: If a meteoroid enters the Earth’s atmosphere, it begins to vapourise and then becomes a meteor. On Earth, it’ll look like a streak of light in the sky, because the rock is burning up
- Meteorite: If a meteoroid doesn’t vapourise completely and survives the trip through Earth’s atmosphere, it can land on the Earth. At that point, it becomes a meteorite
- Comet: Like asteroids, a comet orbits the Sun. However rather than being made mostly of rock, a comet contains lots of ice and gas, which can result in amazing tails forming behind them (thanks to the ice and dust vapourising)
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In other space news, astronomers have revealed details about one of the most extreme planets ever discovered.
Nasa admitted a mysterious air leak that has plagued the International Space Station for months is getting worse.
And, SpaceX blew up a Starship rocket tank on purpose last week during a dramatic “pressure test”.
Will you be looking out for the meteor showers? Let us know in the comments…
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