Tonight, the sky lights up again for another major meteor shower (it did last night as well, but I was able to post for that, sorry, I’ll do better, I promise!). This meteor shower won’t be as bright or have as many meteors as the last one, but it was cloudy then anyway, so who cares! Just kidding of course, I really hope some of you guys got to see something in August, but if you want to see anything tonight, you’re going to need to go out in the wee small hours and find some clear and very dark, because the moon is against you, being big, bright and obnoxious.
These meteors are called the Orionids because they will look as if they are coming from the constellation Orion (although they’re not really, those stars being many light years away and the meteors being just miles above you). Orion is super easy to spot. It is big and bright and looks like this:
It is so easy to spot that it has been a big part of many cultures mythology all the way back to the Ancient Egyptians who worshipped Orion as the god Sah. But that’s not the only historical link to these meteors
While the show might not be quite the spectacle of August 12th, however, the comet that these meteors come from is very special indeed. Every three-quarters of a century a very famous, very bright, very special comet passes through the solar system: Halley’s Comet!
Halley’s Comet is probably the most famous comet, and for good reason. It is so impressive when it can be seen that it has popped up all over history. It was seen as an omen in 1066 before the legendary Battle of Hastings and is depicted on the Bayeux Tapestry. It has inspired paintings of the Star of Bethlehem (and some even think it might have been the very same comet that was indeed that star). It’s first thought recording dates back to 467 BC, that’s nearly 2500 years ago!
This is a special and magical comet that has been inspiring the human race for nearly as long as we have been writing and recording our inspirations. And tonight, although it won’t be back in our neighbourhood until the year 2061, it’ll put on a light show to inspire you, too.
Best chance of view: 10 pm onwards