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That's gotta hurt: NASA suffers attack of the lame Orionids

Downbeat forecast for this week's meteor shower

A gloomy NASA isn't holding out much hope for a dazzling Orionid meteor shower display this week, as Earth passes through the debris trail of Halley's Comet.

Peak activity is expected just before dawn on Thursday, 22 October. However, a rather glum Bill Cooke, of the NASA Meteoroid Environments Office, said: "The Orionids will probably show weaker activity than usual this year. Bits of comet dust hitting the atmosphere will probably give us about a dozen meteors per hour."

Those wishing to experience inevitable disappointment should "set the alarm a few hours before dawn, go outside and look up in the direction of the constellation Orion", NASA advises.

It's not all doom and gloom, though. The administration notes that with "Sirius, bright winter constellations such as Orion, Gemini, and Taurus, and the planets Jupiter and Venus" on show, "even if the shower is a dud, the rest of the sky is dynamite".

If the Orionids are indeed a washout, the Leonids are scheduled to put in an appearance next month, peaking on 18 November. ®

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