Debris from Halley's Comet to light up sky over coming nights

Halley's Comet photographed by the Soviet Probe 'Vega' in 1986
Halley's Comet photographed by the Soviet Probe 'Vega' in 1986

Debris from history's most famous comet can be seen lighting up the sky in a shower of meteors over the next few nights.

The Orionids consist of a stream of dusty particles left behind by Halley's Comet - the same comet featured on the Bayeux Tapestry after appearing shortly before William the Conquerer's invasion of England in 1066.

A regular visitor visible every 75 years, the comet put on its last spectacular show in 1986 as it travelled through the inner part of the solar system.

From Tuesday night to Friday the Orionid meteor shower will be at its peak, producing an expected maximum of around 20 shooting stars per hour.

Although the meteors can appear in any part of the sky, they seem to emerge from a "radiant" in the constellation of Orion in the east.

The meteors can be seen from 9pm onwards but will be most visible after the moon sets at around midnight.

Orionid meteors are fast moving - striking the Earth's amosphere at around 41 miles per second before burning up - and often leave long-lasting glowing trails. Occasionally, they can produce bright fireballs.