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


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 (, which uses robotic telescopes to give everyone the chance to be an astronomer.

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