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Shower of shooting stars expected tonight

The Lyrid meteor shower is at its peak tonight Credit: PA

Stargazers could see a shower of shooting stars tonight with a forecast of clear skies in much of the UK.

The Lyrid meteor shower is at its peak tonight and tomorrow and on average people can expect to see between 15 and 20 shooting stars an hour.

The meteors, sand-like particles shed by Comet Thatcher, leave luminous streaks across the sky as they burn up in the atmosphere.

The best place to see the Lyrids is to find an open field where you can see the whole of the night sky. The best time is a few hours after midnight where you can expect to see most of the bright streaks in the early hours of the morning.

Scan the sky over the course of the night as the meteors can pop out from any direction.

– Astronomer Dr Radmila Topalovic


Iowa CCTV catches image of mystery fireball 'meteor'

Hundreds of people in the Midwest reported seeing a large fireball in the sky on Thursday around 5:35pm local time (2335 GMT) and the image was caught on tape by a security camera in Iowa.

According to the City of North Liberty's website, on Friday "Assistant Streets Superintendent Dan Lange discovered that a security camera at the public works facility on S. Front Street captured the falling object."

The tape shows a fiery object streaking across the night sky. The American Meteor Society says that it has received over 700 reports of a fireball over the border of Iowa and Minnesota.

AMS says witnesses reported an object "as bright as the Sun that fragmented into many parts" as well as several reports of "sonic effects associated with the meteor."


Perseids meteor shower expected to light up skies

A meteor from the Perseids shower photographed over Georgia, United States of America Credit: NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center

A powerful meteor shower is expected to light up British skies tonight with "a natural firework display", astronomy experts have predicted.

The meteors can be seen by the naked eye and are the result of material falling from the tail of the Comet Swift-Tuttle.

Professor Alan Fitzsimmons of Queen's University Belfast explained: "Comet Swift-Tuttle won't be visiting our neck of the woods again until the year 2125, but every year we get this beautiful reminder as the Earth ploughs through the debris it leaves in its orbit."

NASA: Fireball seen over US 'probably a yard across'

Bill Cooke of NASA's Meteoroid Environmental Office said the widely-reported flash in the sky was probably "a single meteor event." He told the Associated Press:

[It] looks to be a fireball that moved roughly toward the South East, going on visual reports.

Judging from the brightness, we're dealing with something as bright as the full moon.

The thing is probably a yard across. We basically have [had] a boulder enter the atmosphere over the North East.

– Bill Cooke, nasa
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