Belfast Telegraph

UK Website Of The Year

Home News UK

Shooting stars formed from Halley's Comet debris to light up night sky

Published 04/05/2016

Sky watchers in the southern hemisphere will have the best view of the meteors
Sky watchers in the southern hemisphere will have the best view of the meteors

Shooting stars spawned by history's most famous comet should be visible from the UK over the next two days.

The Eta Aquarid meteors are formed from debris shed by Halley's Comet, best known for its appearance in the Bayeux tapestry.

Clear skies are expected over much of the UK tomorrow night when the meteor shower is due to peak.

Sky watchers in the southern hemisphere will have the best view of the meteors, but from the UK it should be possible to spot between 10 and 20 per hour.

Halley's Comet, discovered in 1705 by Edmund Halley, takes about 76 years to complete one orbit around the sun.

The last time it swung past the Earth was in 1986, when the comet could be seen as a smudge of light in the night sky. It's next appearance will be in 2062, but each year tiny particles from the comet the size of grains of sand burn up in the atmosphere.

The comet produces two meteor showers, the Eta Aquarids and the Orionids, which are visible in October.

Although they can show up anywhere in the sky, the Eta Aquarids appear to originate from the direction of the constellation Aquarius in the north-east.

The best time to see them is just before dawn from a dark location in the countryside.

Another way to view the meteor shower is via the Slooh website ( http://live.slooh.com) , which uses robotic telescopes to give everyone the chance to be an astronomer.

Stunning image of Perseid Meteor Shower taken at Tullagh Bay in Donegal from Ronan McMonagle
Stunning image of Perseid Meteor Shower taken at Tullagh Bay in Donegal from Ronan McMonagle
The Perseids Meteor shower took place last night, regarded as one of the best displays of the year. Photographed around 2am with the Milk-Way over Spelga Dam, located in the Mourne Mountains, County Down. Pic By Paul Moane
TOPSHOTS A photographer prepares to take pictures of the annual Perseid meteor shower in the village of Crissolo, near Cuneo, in the Monviso Alps region of northern Italy, on August 13, 2015. The Perseid meteor shower occurs every year when the Earth passes through the cloud of debris left by Comet Swift-Tuttle. AFP PHOTO / MARCO BERTORELLOMARCO BERTORELLO/AFP/Getty Images
A meteor streaks across the sky early Wednesday, Aug 12, 2015, in Springville, Ala. The annual Perseid meteor shower peaks tonight. (Mark Almond/AL.com via AP) MAGS OUT
A meteor streaks across the sky near an American flag early Wednesday, Aug 12, 2015, in Springville, Ala. The annual Perseid meteor shower peaks tonight. (Mark Almond/AL.com via AP) MAGS OUT;
In this photo taken with long exposure, a wind turbine is set against a starry sky Thursday, Aug. 13, 2015, near Marshalltown, Iowa. The annual Perseid meteor shower reaches its peak on Wednesday and Thursday. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
In this photo taken with long exposure, a meteor streaks across the sky behind a grain elevator during the annual Perseid meteor shower Thursday, Aug. 13, 2015, in Baxter, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
A shooting star seen through thin cloud in the skies over the Bathing House at Howick in Northumberland as the annual Perseids meteor shower peaked, delighting viewers in the Midlands and the North. PA Wire
A shooting star in the skies over the Bathing House at Howick in Northumberland as the annual Perseids meteor shower peaked, delighting viewers in the Midlands and the North. PA Wire
A shooting star in the skies over the Bathing House at Howick in Northumberland as the annual Perseids meteor shower peaked, delighting viewers in the Midlands and the North. Photo: PA Wire
A meteor seen during a Perseids meteor shower over St Mary's Lighthouse near Whitley Bay, as hundreds of shooting stars will be visible from across the UK this evening as the annual Perseids meteor shower peaks. Owen Humphreys/PA Wire
RETRANSMITTED ADDING BYLINE. A shooting star in the skies over the Bathing House at Howick in Northumberland as the annual Perseids meteor shower peaked, delighting viewers in the Midlands and the North. Owen Humphreys/PA Wire
A shooting star in the skies over Kielder Water, Northumberland, as the annual Perseids meteor shower peaked, delighting viewers in the Midlands and the North. Tom White/PA Wire
RETRANSMITTED ADDING BYLINE. A shooting star in the skies over the Bathing House at Howick in Northumberland as the annual Perseids meteor shower peaked, delighting viewers in the Midlands and the North. Owen Humphreys/PA Wire
RETRANSMITTED ADDING BYLINE. A shooting star in the skies over the Bathing House at Howick in Northumberland as the annual Perseids meteor shower peaked, delighting viewers in the Midlands and the North. Photo: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire
RETRANSMITTED ADDING BYLINE. A shooting star seen through thin cloud in the skies over the Bathing House at Howick in Northumberland as the annual Perseids meteor shower peaked, delighting viewers in the Midlands and the North. Photo: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire
RETRANSMITTED ADDING BYLINE. A shooting star in the skies over the Bathing House at Howick in Northumberland as the annual Perseids meteor shower peaked, delighting viewers in the Midlands and the North. Photo: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire
A shooting star in the skies over the Bathing House at Howick in Northumberland as the annual Perseids meteor shower peaked, delighting viewers in the Midlands and the North. Photo: PA Wire
A shooting star in the skies over the Bathing House at Howick in Northumberland as the annual Perseids meteor shower peaked, delighting viewers in the Midlands and the North. Photo: PA Wire
A photographer prepares to take pictures of the annual Perseid meteor shower in the village of Crissolo, near Cuneo, in the Monviso Alps region of northern Italy, on August 13, 2015. The Perseid meteor shower occurs every year when the Earth passes through the cloud of debris left by Comet Swift-Tuttle. AFP PHOTO / MARCO BERTORELLOMARCO BERTORELLO/AFP/Getty Images
Cows stand in a field during the annual Perseid meteor shower in the village of Crissolo, near Cuneo, in the Monviso Alps region of northern Italy, on August 13, 2015. The Perseid meteor shower occurs every year when the Earth passes through the cloud of debris left by Comet Swift-Tuttle. AFP PHOTO / MARCO BERTORELLOMARCO BERTORELLO/AFP/Getty Images
A photographer prepares to take pictures of the annual Perseid meteor shower in the village of Crissolo, near Cuneo, in the Monviso Alps region of northern Italy, on August 13, 2015. The Perseid meteor shower occurs every year when the Earth passes through the cloud of debris left by Comet Swift-Tuttle. AFP PHOTO / MARCO BERTORELLOMARCO BERTORELLO/AFP/Getty Images
A picture shows the Milky Way during the annual Perseid meteor shower in the village of Crissolo, near Cuneo, in the Monviso Alps region of northern Italy, on August 13, 2015. The Perseid meteor shower occurs every year when the Earth passes through the cloud of debris left by Comet Swift-Tuttle. AFP PHOTO / MARCO BERTORELLOMARCO BERTORELLO/AFP/Getty Images
A photographer prepares to take pictures of the annual Perseid meteor shower in the village of Crissolo, near Cuneo, in the Monviso Alps region of northern Italy, on August 13, 2015. The Perseid meteor shower occurs every year when the Earth passes through the cloud of debris left by Comet Swift-Tuttle. AFP PHOTO / MARCO BERTORELLOMARCO BERTORELLO/AFP/Getty Images
A photographer prepares to take pictures of the annual Perseid meteor shower in the village of Crissolo, near Cuneo, in the Monviso Alps region of northern Italy, on August 13, 2015. The Perseid meteor shower occurs every year when the Earth passes through the cloud of debris left by Comet Swift-Tuttle. AFP PHOTO / MARCO BERTORELLOMARCO BERTORELLO/AFP/Getty Images
A photographer prepares to take pictures of the annual Perseid meteor shower in the village of Crissolo, near Cuneo, in the Monviso Alps region of northern Italy, on August 13, 2015. The Perseid meteor shower occurs every year when the Earth passes through the cloud of debris left by Comet Swift-Tuttle. AFP PHOTO / MARCO BERTORELLOMARCO BERTORELLO/AFP/Getty Images
A photographer prepares to take pictures of the annual Perseid meteor shower in the village of Crissolo, near Cuneo, in the Monviso Alps region of northern Italy, on August 13, 2015. The Perseid meteor shower occurs every year when the Earth passes through the cloud of debris left by Comet Swift-Tuttle. AFP PHOTO / MARCO BERTORELLOMARCO BERTORELLO/AFP/Getty Images
A photographer prepares to take pictures of the annual Perseid meteor shower in the village of Crissolo, near Cuneo, in the Monviso Alps region of northern Italy, on August 13, 2015. The Perseid meteor shower occurs every year when the Earth passes through the cloud of debris left by Comet Swift-Tuttle. AFP PHOTO / MARCO BERTORELLOMARCO BERTORELLO/AFP/Getty Images
A photographer prepares to take pictures of the annual Perseid meteor shower in the village of Crissolo, near Cuneo, in the Monviso Alps region of northern Italy, on August 13, 2015. The Perseid meteor shower occurs every year when the Earth passes through the cloud of debris left by Comet Swift-Tuttle. AFP PHOTO / MARCO BERTORELLOMARCO BERTORELLO/AFP/Getty Images
Clouds partly cover the star speckled night sky over Sieversdorf, eastern Germany, on August 11, 2015. The peak of the Perseid meteor shower is expected for the night to Thursday, August 13, 2015. AFP PHOTO / DPA / PATRICK PLEUL +++ GERMANY OUTPATRICK PLEUL/AFP/Getty Images
A falling star crosses the night sky over Sieversdorf, eastern Germany, on August 11, 2015. The peak of the Perseid meteor shower is expected for the night to Thursday, August 13, 2015. AFP PHOTO / DPA / PATRICK PLEUL +++ GERMANY OUTPATRICK PLEUL/AFP/Getty Images
A general view of the stars above Sycamore Gap, prior to the Perseid Meteor Shower above Hadrian's Wall near Bardon Mill, England, Wednesday, Aug. 12, 2015. The annual Perseid meteor shower reaches its peak on Wednesday night, but much of the UK is facing cloudy conditions. The best places to view the event is in northern England and Scotland. (AP Photo/Scott Heppell)
Members of the public watch the Perseid meteor shower above Sycamore Gap which is along Hadrian's Wall near Bardon Mill, England, Thursday, Aug. 13, 2015. The annual Perseid meteor shower reaches its peak on Wednesday night, but much of the United Kingdom is facing cloudy conditions. The best places to view the event is in northern England and Scotland. (AP Photo/Scott Heppell)
A general view of the stars above Sycamore Gap prior to the Perseid Meteor Shower above Hadrian's Wall near Bardon Mill, England, Wednesday, Aug. 12, 2015. The annual Perseid meteor shower reaches its peak on Wednesday night, but much of the UK is facing cloudy conditions. The best places to view the event is in northern England and Scotland. (AP Photo/Scott Heppell)
Stars and meteor streaks are seen behind a destroyed house, near Tuzla, Bosnia, Wednesday, Aug. 12, 2015. The annual Perseid meteor shower reaches its peak on Wednesday night. (AP Photo/Amel Emric)
A Perseid meteor along the Milky Way illuminates the dark sky near Villadiego in the province of Burgos, northern Spain, during the "Perseids" meteor shower on August 12, 2015. AFP PHOTO/ CESAR MANSOCESAR MANSO/AFP/Getty Images
A long exposure image showing an aeroplane passing in the sky during the Perseids meteor shower over the remains of St. Ilia Roman early Christian basilica dated back to the 5th6th century AD near the town of Pirdop, early on August 12, 2015. AFP PHOTO / NIKOLAY DOYCHINOVNIKOLAY DOYCHINOV/AFP/Getty Images
Stars seen as streaks from a long camera exposure are seen behind Arnotegui Hermitage, in Obanos, northern Spain, Tuesday, Aug. 11, 2015. Some Catholics refer to the Perseids as the "tears of Saint Lawrence", since 10 August is the date of that saint's martyrdom. (AP Photo/Alvaro Barrientos)
Stars and storm seen as streaks from a long camera exposure are seen behind an ancient Hermitage, in Murillo del Fruto, northern Spain, Wednesday, Aug. 12, 2015. The meteor shower is expected to peak Wednesday night into Thursday morning.(AP Photo/Alvaro Barrientos)
Stars seen as streaks from a long camera exposure are seen behind a silhouette of a Spanish fighting bull, conceived decades ago as highway billboards in Cordoba, Spain, Wednesday, Aug. 12, 2015. Some Catholics refer to the Perseids as the "tears of Saint Lawrence", since 10 August is the date of that saint's martyrdom. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)
Stars seen as streaks from a long camera exposure are seen behind an ancient Hermitage, in Murillo del Fruto, northern Spain, Wednesday Aug. 12, 2015. Some Catholics refer to the Perseids as the "tears of Saint Lawrence", since 10 August is the date of that saint's martyrdom. (AP Photo/Alvaro Barrientos)
Handout photo issued by the European Space Agency of a Perseid seen in August 2010 above the European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope at Paranal, Chile, as a man-made shooting star will add extra sparkle to a spectacular display of Perseid meteors this week. Photo: S. Guisard/ESO/PA Wire
A long exposure image showing an aeroplane passing in the sky during the Perseids meteor shower over the remains of St. Ilia Roman early Christian basilica dated back to the 5th6th century AD near the town of Pirdop, early on August 12, 2015. AFP PHOTO / NIKOLAY DOYCHINOVNIKOLAY DOYCHINOV/AFP/Getty Images
A long exposure image showing a Perseids meteor (R) streaking across the night sky over the remains of St. Ilia Roman early Christian basilica dated back to the 5th6th century AD near the town of Pirdop, early on August 12, 2015. AFP PHOTO / NIKOLAY DOYCHINOVNIKOLAY DOYCHINOV/AFP/Getty Images
A long exposure image showing a Perseids meteor (L) streaking across the night sky over the remains of St. Ilia Roman early Christian basilica dated back to the 5th6th century AD near the town of Pirdop, early on August 12, 2015. AFP PHOTO / NIKOLAY DOYCHINOVNIKOLAY DOYCHINOV/AFP/Getty Images
A Perseid meteor along the Milky Way illuminates the dark sky near Villadiego in the province of Burgos, northern Spain, during the "Perseids" meteor shower on August 12, 2015. AFP PHOTO/ CESAR MANSOCESAR MANSO/AFP/Getty Images
A Perseid meteor along the Milky Way illuminates the dark sky near Villadiego in the province of Burgos, northern Spain, during the "Perseids" meteor shower on August 12, 2015. AFP PHOTO/ CESAR MANSOCESAR MANSO/AFP/Getty Images
A Perseid meteor along the Milky Way illuminates the dark sky near Villadiego in the province of Burgos, northern Spain, during the "Perseids" meteor shower on August 12, 2015. AFP PHOTO/ CESAR MANSOCESAR MANSO/AFP/Getty Images
A Perseid meteor along the Milky Way illuminates the dark sky near Villadiego in the province of Burgos, northern Spain, during the "Perseids" meteor shower on August 12, 2015. AFP PHOTO/ CESAR MANSOCESAR MANSO/AFP/Getty Images
A file picture taken in the northeastern village of Rotbuehl, Switzerland, on August 13, 2009, shows a meteor entering the earth's atmosphere during the Perseid meteor shower, as the earth passed through the densest part of the dusty debris stream from the comet Swift-Tuttle. Close to 100 shooting stars per hour will be visible from around the globe on a night sky, between August 12 and 13, 2015. AFP PHOTO / SEBASTIAN DERUNGSSEBASTIAN DERUNGS/AFP/Getty Images
This file photo taken early on August 13, 2009 shows a meteor entering the earth's atmosphere during the Perseid meteor shower over the northeastern village of Rotbuehl in Switzerland. AFP PHOTO / SEBASTIAN DERUNGSSEBASTIAN DERUNGS/AFP/Getty Images
This file photo taken late on August 12, 2013 shows a long exposure picture showing the sky at night during a Perseid meteor (L) shower, with a meteor streaking across the sky (L) over St Ioan medieval church near the village of Potsurnentsi. AFP PHOTO / DIMITAR DILKOFFDIMITAR DILKOFF/AFP/Getty Images
Handout photo issued by the Royal Astronomical Society of a Perseid shooting star over Woodingdean, Sussex, on the early morning of August 13, 2013, as a man-made shooting star will add extra sparkle to a spectacular display of Perseid meteors this week. Photo: Darren Baskill/Royal Astronomical Society/PA Wire
File photo dated 13/08/13 of a meteor seen during a Perseids meteor shower over Gloucestershire, as hundreds of shooting stars will be visible from across the UK this evening as the annual Perseids meteor shower peaks. Photo Tim Ireland/PA Wire

Slooh is hosting a live event beginning at 1am on May 6.

Read More

From Belfast Telegraph