Stargazers will be treated to an amazing astronomical show in the skies above Cheshire tonight (October 21).
The Orionid meteor shower is due to reach its peak above the UK, with up to 30 meteors an hour blazing overhead – giving you one of the best chances to see a shooting star this year.
This particular meteor shower is a regular fixture on the astronomy calendar and occurs as debris from Halley's Comet showers the Earth's atmosphere.
Weather permitting, you should be able to get great views of the meteor shower in the early hours of the morning and right before the dawn – when the night is darkest.
What is the Orionid meteor shower?
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), its 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 can I see the Orionid meteor shower?
The meteor shower is visible throughout October, but it hits its peak on the nights of October 21 and 22.
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 2.
When is the best time to see the meteors?
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?
With little moon coverage to spoil things this week, the showers will be highly visible in the Northern Hemisphere.
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?
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.