Image of the Day: Halley’s Meteor Fragments streak past Earth Today

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Look up at the night skies this week and you could see a fragment of Halley's comet, even though it won't be passing Earth until 2061.  As the comet travels on its 76-year trip around the sun, it leaves small pieces of itself behind.  These meteoroids of dust and ice, travelling at over 237,000 kilometres per hour, collide with the Earth's atmosphere as it crosses the comet's orbit in early May and mid-October.  The meteoroids burn up quickly high in the atmosphere, creating the streaks of a meteor shower. 

October's meteors appear to come from the direction of the constellation of Orion and earn it the name of  the Orionid meteor shower. Last year, NASA recorded 43 Orionid meteors, most of which burned up more than 96 kilometres above the ground. The shower peaks today and is best viewed in a clear, dark sky after 11 pm in your local time, when the sky will be at its darkest.

Image credit: Meteor Physics Group, University of Western Ontario

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