World News – GB – Where to see this week’s meteor shower


If you are up and about an hour before sunrise this week you can catch a’ shooting star ‘if you are lucky when the annual Orionids meteor shower peaks this week

« Best time to see it is [Thursday morning] on the 22nd, but you’ll see decent meteor rates on the 21st and 23rd, » says amateur astronomer Ian Musgrave

And while you wait to see a meteor, you can discover some of the most iconic constellations in our sky

The Orionids meteor shower is caused by the Earth passing through the dust stream of Halley’s comet, the same comet that is responsible for the Eta Aquarids meteor shower

Meteors are emerging from a point in the constellation Orion above the northern horizon

You can see it from anywhere in Australia, but the further north you are the better

It’s not as spectacular as the Eta Aquarids that occur earlier in the year, or the Geminids that we see later in the year, but you should see at least 13 meteors at the top if you’re in a dark area

The three stars in a line that make up the base of the pan are in fact the belt of the constellation Orion

In Greek mythology, Orion is a hunter and many Australian indigenous people also consider this constellation to be a hunter or a group of young men

« Some [indigenous communities] see a man’s upper body throwing a spear with an arrow, » said Karlie Noon, a Gamilaraay woman and astronomical ambassador for the Sydney Observatory

Meteors will come out from a point below Orion’s belt near a large orange star called Betelgeuse, which is the hunter’s shoulder, and shoot through the belt

« If you can see the stars in [Orion’s] belt, you have a good chance of seeing a meteor, » says Dr Musgrave

The further north you are, the more you will see because the point from which they come out will be higher in the sky (so there will be less atmospheric interference and less meteors will disappear below the horizon)

If you are very lucky you may even see a meteor shooting from the left from the nearby constellation Taurus

The southern Taurida meteor shower (formed from debris from Comet Encke) peaked on October 10 but continues throughout the month, says Jonti Horner, astronomer at the University of South Queensland

However, the rates are much lower than Orionids – only two meteors per hour at the top no matter where you live in Australia

Even though the rates are very low, taurid meteors tend to be brighter than orionid meteors, says Professor Horner

« If it moves fast it’s an Orionid meteor, if it moves slowly it’s a taurid », he says

To spot a meteor, you must allow your eyes to adjust to the darkness, then scan the large area of ​​sky where they appear

Catching a meteor is a bit like catching a bus – you may have to wait a while, then several may come at a time

While you wait, see if you can spot some of the Orion and Taurus gems

Many stars from these constellations appear in indigenous stories across Australia, especially a Taurus star group called the Pleiades or Seven Sisters

The universal theme depicts Orion chasing the sisters, mirroring the way the constellations move across the sky

« With my crowd, the Gamilaraay crowd, there are easily six or seven stories to do with the Pleiades, » says Ms. Noon

« One of the stories is about how the hunter (Birray-Birray) started hunting the sisters (Miyay-Miyay) and they ran into a tree and they sang to the creator and asked to be saved from the hunter

« The sisters were put in the sky but a few years later the hunter became so powerful within the group of young men that he was also immortalized and put in the sky and was able to continue his pursuit of the women »

Other stories explain why a star can be difficult to see (one of the sisters is shy) or is related to the seasons and the time of year the cluster of stars starts to appear above the horizon in the evening sky

At this time of year you can see the Seven Sisters after 11:00 p.m., but both constellations are not fully visible until after midnight

If you have trouble spotting them above the northern horizon, use the stars of Orion and Taurus as guides

Start with Betelgeuse under Orion’s belt (the bottom of the pan) then follow a line to your left in front of another bright orange star called Aldebaran, the eye of the Bull

Aldebaran also plays a role in the story of Orion-Seven Sisters in the Kokatha language of the Great Desert of Victoria

In this story, the older sister Kambugudha (represented by the magnificent V-shaped cluster of Hyades in Taurus) attempts to protect the Yugatelya sisters from Nyeeruna (Orion)

Nyeeruna throws fire magic at her with her right hand (Betelgeuse), while she retaliates by returning magic from her left foot (Aldebaran)

« What is similar about these stars is that they are both variable stars, so they light up and darken over time, » says Ms. Noon

This service may include material from Agence France-Presse (AFP), APTN, Reuters, AAP, CNN and BBC World Service which is copyrighted and may not be reproduced

AEST = Australian Eastern Standard Time, which is 10 hours ahead of GMT (Greenwich Mean Time)

Meteor shower, orionids, meteoroid, Halley’s comet, star

World news – EN – Where to see this week’s meteor shower



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