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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 26 February 2021

Orionids: 'Most beautiful' meteor showers of the year to grace UAE skies

The annual cosmic event is believed to be the brightest meteor shower of the year

The maximum visibility will be from Thursday midnight to 4am. EPA
The maximum visibility will be from Thursday midnight to 4am. EPA

The "most beautiful" meteor shower of the year will be at its most intense in the early hours of Thursday morning across UAE skies.

The Orionids are known for speed and brightness and can appear as fireballs shooting across the sky.

Astronomers have described the cosmic show as the best because of its clear visibility.

Not even the moon’s light will interfere with the brightness of the showers in the UAE, according to Hasan Al Hariri, chief executive of Dubai Astronomy Group.

There will be about 10 to 20 meteors per hour but it has produced ... more than 50 in the past

Hasan Al Hariri, Dubai Astronomy Group chief executive

“The maximum visibility will be from midnight on Thursday to 4am in the UAE,” he said.

“The showers take place from mid-October to beginning of November and there will be about 10 to 20 meteors per hour but it has produced ... more than 50 in the past and they could intensify at any time.”

Weather forecasts suggest that skies will be clear and humidity and dust will not obstruct the views.

The meteors are leftovers from the 1P/Halley comet and travel at about a speed of 66 kilometres a second.

“The Orionids, which peak during mid-October each year, are considered to be one of the most beautiful showers of the year," US space agency Nasa said.

"Fast meteors can leave glowing ‘trains’ [incandescent bits of debris in the wake of the meteor] which last for several seconds to minutes."

It takes 76 years for comet Halley to orbit the sun once. The last time it was seen by observers was in 1986 and the comet will not enter the inner solar system again until 2061.

Dubai Astronomy Group will not be hosting a viewing event in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Mr Al Hariri said areas with less light pollution are recommended for viewing the showers. He is advising star-gazers to practice social distancing while viewing.

The next meteor shower to grace UAE skies will be the Geminids in December, which has up to 120 meteors per hour during its peak.

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