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UK: Orionid meteor shower viewing to be impacted by clouds

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The Orionid meteor shower will peak later this week; however, viewing may be impacted by clouds in some areas.

The Orionid meteor shower is a moderate shower that produces about 25 meteors per hour on the peak night.

"The Orionids are one of the top five meteor showers of the year and will bring the best chance to see a shooting star since the Perseids meteor shower in August," AccuWeather Meteorologist Brian Lada said.

It's predicted to showcase the greatest number of meteors on the night of 21 October into the early morning of 22 October. However, it might be difficult to view due to clouds and a bright, waning gibbous moon, which will limit visibility.

An easterly flow will cause low clouds to develop along the east coast from Scotland through England on Friday night with clouds expanding westward during the overnight hours.

Those in the eastern U.K. hoping to view the shower earlier in the week will still have to deal with clouds as a storm spins over the North Sea producing clouds each night.

The best viewing conditions this year will be across Wales, Northern Ireland and western Scotland where each night will offer some clear periods, though clouds and fog are possible late at night.

The Orionid meteors are usually at their best in the early hours before dawn.

The Orionid meteors, also known as shooting stars, are debris of ice and dust left behind by Comet Halley. The debris particles discarded by the comet plummet into the Earth's atmosphere. Sometimes, the meteors leave a trail of ionized gas, which gives the appearance of a glowing streak.

"Occasionally, the Orionids produce fireballs, meteors that shine extremely brightly for a few quick seconds before fading away," Lada said.

The key to seeing a meteor shower is finding an unobstructed view where you are able to see as much sky as possible. Dark areas in the countryside and parks away from city lights are best.

If skygazers are unable to see the Orionids, a more notable meteor shower, the Geminids, will occur in December of 2016. It is usually the best meteor shower of the year. Stargazers may see as many as 120 meteors per hour at its peak, which can also bring multicolored meteors.