Watch the skies! Halley’s Comet meteor shower

The meteor shower should be visible on Tuesday and Wednesday night.
The meteor shower should be visible on Tuesday and Wednesday night.
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A METEOR shower is set to light up the night sky above Edinburgh as the cosmic dust from Halley’s Comet hits the Earth’s atmosphere.

The famous comet was last spotted in 1986 and is not due to brighten the skies until 2061, as it usually appears every 75 years.

But the trail of debris it leaves in its wake will be visible tonight and tomorrow night as a shower of shooting stars.

Stargazers are advised to turn their eyes to the skies between midnight and 1am when the dust will be most visible, said Tania Johnston, of the Royal Observatory in Edinburgh.

She said: “The Orionids meteor shower happens every year around this time and it happens because the Earth passes through the very, very long trail left behind by Halley’s comet.

“Halley’s Comet at the moment is around about Neptune so it is nowhere near us at the moment, and the Earth’s orbit won’t cross it again until about 2061.

“Because we are passing through the comet’s trail there will be these bits of dust - about the size of a grain of rice - which will burn up in the Earth’s atmosphere creating shooting stars.”

The shower is called The Orionids as it is visible near the constellation Orion, one of the largest in the night sky.

Halley’s Comet is the only short comet visible by the naked eye and was discovered by Edmond Halley in 1705 - although reported sightings go back as far as 240 BC.

The meteor shower will be best viewed from areas of low light pollution so stargazers are advised to view the spectacle from a park or higher ground.

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