Adrian Dening's Stars Over Somerset

    Monday 18th to Sunday 24th October 2021

    The main event this coming week is the peak of the Orionids meteor shower on Thursday 21st. Unfortunately we will be just past a Full Moon and this will spoil your view of the meteors as a Full Moon is the ultimate source of light pollution! Astronomers looking for dim deep-sky objects will always avoid evenings around this time. It's a shame because the Orionids is one of the best annual meteor showers.

    The Orionids is so named because the meteors appear to originate from a single point in the constellation of Orion - this is known as the "radiant point". You'll need to be looking east south east towards Orion after midnight and the meteors should be visible right through until dawn on the Thursday morning.

    The meteors or "shooting stars" are caused by the Earth "scooping up" debris left by a comet as it travels close to the Sun on its orbit in from the outer reaches of the Solar System. In the case of the Orionids, the debris comes from comet Halley that swings by the Earth every 75 years.

    The dust and pea-sized debris it leaves behind enters the Earth's atmosphere at a speed of around 40 miles per second. The streaks of light are produced by friction as the debris hits our air.

    The best way to view the shower is to sit in a comfy chair facing Orion and wrap-up warm because you are not going to be moving around much. Then just wait! There is no need for a telescope or binoculars.

    Screenshot courtesy of Stellarium
    Copyright Adrian Dening and Radio Ninesprings 2021

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