Stargazers in for their annual treat

Ian Griffin
Ian Griffin
If predicted clouds manage to part tonight, even for a moment, Otago will be treated to a stellar display in the skies.

This weekend, broken pieces of Halley’s Comet will be visible from Otago in a yearly meteor shower.

What will make the view even more spectacular is the darkness created by a new moon.

Otago Museum director and avid astronomer Dr Ian Griffin said last night was prime viewing, with between 15 and 20 meteors visible every hour, but the entire weekend would be a great show.

"It’ll be the best meteor shower this year. The good thing about this meteor shower is that it’s quite reliable."

Others could be more dramatic, but more unpredictable, he said.

The meteors were tiny, from the size of a grain of sand to the size of a pea, but they were visible because they burned up due to their speed.

The best locations were away from the lights of a city, Mr Griffin said.

"But as long as you’re not right in the middle of the Octagon you’ll be in for a show."

Cloud has been predicted for most of the weekend, but  sky-gazers will be hoping it does not eventuate.

"I suggest watching it sitting in a deck chair with a cup of hot chocolate."

The shower is called "The Orionids" because it seems to radiate from a point close to the star Betelgeuse in the constellation Orion.

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