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Daily News Analysis


20th October, 2023 Science and Technology

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The celestial calendar for 2023 is set to offer a spectacular show as the Orionid meteor shower is expected to rain down its greatest number of meteors on the mornings of October 21 and 22.


About Orionid meteor shower

  • It is an annual celestial event that occurs in October, known for its stunning display of shooting stars.
  • It is associated with Halley's Comet, as the Earth passes through debris left behind by the famous comet during its orbit.
  • These tiny comet particles, primarily specks of dust and ice, burn up upon entering Earth's atmosphere, creating the beautiful streaks of light that we observe as meteors.


  • Radiant Point: The Orionids appear to radiate from a point near the constellation Orion, specifically around the red giant star Betelgeuse. This radiant point is the apparent spot from which the meteors originate in the sky, though they can be seen in all parts of the night sky.
  • Speed and Brightness: The Orionids are known for their fast speed, traveling at about 41 miles per second (66 km/s). While not as numerous as other major meteor showers, they are known for their brightness, leaving long-lasting trails in the sky.

Timing and Peak:

  • Time Frame: The Orionid meteor shower typically runs from early October to the first week of November, with the peak activity occurring around the 20th to the 22nd of October.
  • Peak Visibility: The best time to observe the Orionids is during the pre-dawn hours when the sky is darkest. During the peak, observers can expect to see around 20 meteors per hour under ideal viewing conditions.

Historical Significance:

  • The Orionid meteor shower has been observed for centuries and has made appearances in various cultural and historical records.
  • It has been a source of wonder and inspiration for many civilizations, often finding its way into myths, legends, and folklore.

About Halley’s Comet

  • Halley's Comet is a periodic comet that can be seen from Earth approximately every 75-76 years.
  • It is officially designated 1P/Halley and is named after English astronomer Edmond Halley, who, in 1705, was the first to correctly predict its periodicity.


  • Orbit: Halley's Comet follows a highly elliptical orbit around the Sun, taking it from the outer edges of the Solar System to a point between the orbits of Venus and Mars.
  • Composition: Comets are essentially icy bodies that release gas or dust when they approach the Sun, creating a visible coma and sometimes a tail. Halley's Comet is composed of dust, ice, and rocky debris.
  • Size: The nucleus of Halley's Comet is estimated to be around 15 kilometers (9.3 miles) long and 8 kilometers (4.9 miles) wide.


  • Observations: Records of Halley's Comet's appearances date back to ancient times, with the first confirmed sighting in 240 BC by Chinese astronomers. The comet has been observed and recorded throughout history, with notable appearances in 1066, 1301, 1835, and 1910.
  • Halley's Prediction: Edmond Halley's research on comets, including analysis of historical sightings, led him to predict the return of the comet in 1758. His work laid the foundation for understanding the periodic nature of certain comets.


  • Scientific Research: Halley's Comet has played a significant role in advancing our understanding of comets, their compositions, and their behavior as they approach the Sun. Several space missions have been launched to study comets, including the European Space Agency's Giotto mission, which closely observed Halley's Comet in 1986.
  • Cultural Impact: The comet has had a considerable impact on human culture and has been referenced in various works of art, literature, and mythology throughout history. It has been associated with both auspicious and ominous events in different cultures.

Recent Appearances:

  • 1986 Appearance: Halley's Comet made its most recent appearance in 1986, providing an opportunity for astronomers to study it using modern technology and allowing the public to witness its remarkable celestial display.
  • Future Appearances: Based on its orbital period, Halley's Comet is expected to return to the inner Solar System around mid-2061.

About Meteors

  • Definition: Meteors, commonly known as shooting stars, are the visible streaks of light produced when small pieces of cosmic debris, known as meteoroids, enter the Earth's atmosphere and burn up due to friction with the air.
  • Formation: Meteoroids are typically remnants of asteroids or comets that have broken off due to collisions or other factors. They can range in size from small grains to boulder-sized objects.
  • Types of Meteors: There are different types of meteors, including sporadic meteors (not associated with any particular meteor shower), meteor showers (occur when the Earth passes through the debris left by a comet), and meteorite-producing fireballs (which survive atmospheric entry and hit the ground).
  • Significance: Meteors provide valuable information about the composition of the Solar System. Studying their characteristics and trajectories can offer insights into the nature of asteroids, comets, and other celestial bodies.

About Comets

  • Definition: Comets are cosmic bodies composed of dust, ice, and volatile compounds that orbit the Sun. As they approach the inner Solar System, they heat up, releasing gas and dust, creating a visible coma (a fuzzy atmosphere) and sometimes a tail.
  • Formation: Comets are believed to be remnants from the early stages of the Solar System's formation. They are composed of dust, rock, and volatile compounds such as water, ammonia, and methane, trapped in a mixture of water ice and other frozen gases.
  • Structure: Comets typically consist of a nucleus, coma, hydrogen envelope, dust tail, and ion tail. The nucleus is the solid core of the comet, while the coma is the nebulous envelope of gas and dust surrounding the nucleus. The tails are formed as a result of solar radiation and the solar wind.
  • Orbital Paths: Comets can have either short or long orbital periods. Short-period comets, like Halley's Comet, have orbital periods of less than 200 years, while long-period comets can take thousands or even millions of years to complete a single orbit.
  • Significance: Comets provide valuable information about the early Solar System's conditions and composition. They have played a crucial role in the delivery of water and organic molecules to Earth, potentially contributing to the development of life on our planet.


Studying meteors and comets is vital for understanding the history and dynamics of the Solar System. These celestial objects offer valuable insights into the processes that have shaped the universe and continue to influence the development of life on Earth.


Q. What is the astronomical phenomenon associated with the debris left behind by Halley's Comet?

a) Taurid meteor shower

b) Orionid meteor shower

c) Leonid meteor shower

d) Geminid meteor shower

Correct Answer: b)