Great Outdoors Friday, October 20th

Where to watch the Orionid meteor showers in Herefordshire

Great Outdoors Friday, October 20th

Where to watch the Orionid meteor showers in Herefordshire

On the list of Celestial Events That Give You Goosebumps, meteor showers - proper meteor showers - are up there with solar eclipses and the International Space Station passing over your house on Christmas Eve (it\'s Saaaaantaaaa). And this weekend we're in for a good one.

As Halley's comet hurtles through the solar system, debris falls off it which we then see as shooting stars - a reassuring-sounding name for what are effectively space rocks flying towards Earth at 148, 000mph. At what astronomers predict to be the best time to view this annual phenomenon - tonight, and then in early hours of Sunday morning, between midnight and 3am - you'll be able to see up to 20 of them each streaking across the night sky every hour in ideal conditions.

Orionid meterors are known for their speed and brilliance, and you don't even need any special equiptment to enjoy the show, according to leading astronomer Tom Kerss. Just grab some blankets,  and try find some dark sky to best enjoy the show.

Luckily we're blessed with plenty of great dark sky spots - areas unaffected by light pollution - in Herefordshire. Here are some tips from Herefordshire Astronomical Society's Mark Chamberlain on finding the best place to enjoy some stargazing.

"You\'re going to want to get to a high point," said the HAS chairman and observing secretary. The meteors will appear quickly, and could be seen anywhere - although if you have to pick a direction, you may have more luck looking East.

"Ideally you want a totally clear horizon, without trees. Somewhere in the Brecons, perhaps, but certainly somewhere with clear views of the horizon".

Also, try and resist the temptation to get your phone out - any light is going to make it harder to see the meteors.

With that all that in mind, here are 4 perfect places to see the Orionid meteors on Sunday morning.

 

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Swardon Quarry, near Mordiford

There\'s a picturesque picnic area between Mordiford and Dormington. Secluded, but not a secret. Park in the lay-by and walk up Backbury Hill. If you\'re setting up early, pop into the nearby Moon Inn. Seems fitting.

A guide postcode is HR1 4EJ but that\'ll take you to a nearby lane not the car park. For detailed directions tap here or view the map.

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May Hill, near Newent

The National Trust\'s May Hill, between Gloucester and Ross-on-Wye, is a wild, open landmark crowned with an instanty recognisable row of pine trees. And man, it\'s seriously stunning. Especially at sunset.

It\'s an invigorating walk to the top (wear walking boots), and you\'ll be drinking in a vista that includes Herefordshire, Wales and the Black Mountains, the Forest of Dean, the Severn Estuary and out towards the Cotswolds.

There\'s a car park at May Hill Common (GL18 1JS) and our favourite pub on the slopes is The Glasshouse Inn and Restuarant.

 
 

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Marcle Ridge, near Much Marcle

East of Hereford and not too far from Ledbury is Marcle Ridge, a high-point with impressive views looking East over the Malvern Hills. There are plenty of walks to/from/around this place, so take your pick, but we like the circular walk featured on www.walkingbritain.co.uk.

Like they say it\'s an easy climb from Kynaston to Marcle Ridge, through fields and over a few stiles. 

If you\'re parking, head to Glowson Wood Road, HR8 2LX. For a post-eclipse pub head to the Walwyn Arms.  

 

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Brecon Beacons, Hay Bluff.

The Brecon Beacons are one of the few places in the world to be awarded Dark Sky Reserve status, and frequently hold night-time events for stargazers. You're not short of place to watch the meteor shower - they have a list of ten here - but the closest is Hay Bluff.

You can park in Hay-On-Wye, but you're probably better using the Hay Bluff car park half a mile north-west of the hill. It's a bit of hike up, but entirely worth it. Get maps and more info here, but be wary of poor 3g reception.

 

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