Orionid meteor shower 2021: How to watch in Scotland and when the shower will peak

The Orionid meteor shower is set to peak this week, offering people around the globe a natural light show.

Thursday, 21st October 2021, 11:08 am

Halley's comet is known to be a once-in-a-lifetime celestial event that not many of us will get the opportunity to see.

However, this famous comet does have something else to offer stargazers.

The debris from Halley’s comet will create a dazzling meteor shower, known as the Orionid meteor shower.

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The Orionid meteor shower is known to be one of the most reliable showers of the celestial calendar: Photo: Daniel Lois / Getty Images / Canva Pro.

The peak of the Orionids is expected this week.

Here’s all you need to know to make sure you get as good a view as possible.

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What is the Orionid meteor shower?

The Orionid meteor shower is made up of pieces of debris from Halley’s comet.

The comet only passes close enough to Earth to be seen by the naked eye once every 75 or 76 years, so it usually only happens once or twice in a human lifetime.

However, these meteor showers take place more often, occurring once a year in the month of October.

The Royal Museums Greenwich refer to the Orionids as the most reliable meteor shower of the year.

it's visible to people around the year and some of the debris travels at speeds of up to 41 miles per second.

Roughly 20 meteors are expected to cross the sky per hour during the shower’s peak.

To us on the ground, the debris looks like streaks of light, caused by vaporisation due to friction with the air.

These streaks are often made from particles as small as a grain of sand.

When is the peak of the Orionid meteor show 2021?

Although the Orionids are visible on several nights between October 1st and November 6th, the peak of the meteor shower falls on Thursday October 21st.

The best time to head out to see the shower is between midnight on October 21st and dawn on Friday October 22nd.

How can I see the Orionid meteor shower best in Scotland?

The Orionids can be seen by the naked eye, so there’s no need to get your telescope or other stargazing gear out.

Instead, be prepared to wait a while as you never know exactly when they’ll appear.

Take a comfy chair and plenty of layers out to someone with as little light pollution as possible.

Light pollution comes from buildings, streetlights, and busy roads, or essentially any major light source down on the ground.

You want as clear a view as possible of the night sky above, ideally with a low horizon so you can see the wide space of the night sky easily.

You’ll be able to see the meteors in any part of the sky, but if you trace the path of the meteors back, you’ll see that they originate from Orion’s Belt.

Back in 2016, the full moon made it harder to see the Orionids in all their glory and the same might happen this year.

However, you should still be able to see some of the brightest streaks, even if some of the smaller ones are hidden by the moonlight.