Shooting stars overhead tonight

Sky map
The meteor shower appears to come from the constellation of Perseus Photo: NASA/JPL

It's almost as if they are taking place to celebrate the end of the Olympics - but in fact that celestial fireworks that will be visible tonight and tomorrow night are an annual astronomical event that dates back centuries.

The display happens because the Earth is passing through the debris left by a giant comet called Swift-Tuttle that has been orbiting the solar system for billions of years. The dust left behind by the comet enters the earths atmosphere at thousands of miles per hour.

The particles become white hot and burn up, leaving a bright streak across the night sky - a shooting star, or more accurately, a meteor.

The Perseids shower will be visible from the northern hemisphere between 11th and 14th August. The best time to see them is between 11pm for about three hours. Look in an easterly direction and you should see up perhaps between 20 and 25 shooting stars per hour.

We will not see the actual Swift-Tuttle comet this year as it is heading out to Pluto and will not back until the 22nd century - it's orbit takes more than 130 years.If you have an SLR camera and leave it on a long exposure pointing at the sky you might capture photos of the meteors. If you are lucky do send them to meridiantonight@itv.com and we will feature the best ones in the programme on Monday.