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What is the Perseid meteor shower and where can I see it?

This stunning photograph of the Perseid meteor shower was taken at Cotswold Water Park near Cirencester, Gloucestershire, in 2013. Credit: PA

The Perseid meteor shower - a display of celestial fireworks - is set to peak late on Monday night as the Earth flies through a cloud of cometary dust.

The event is one of the high-points in the celestial calendar, occurring each year as the Earth ploughs through dusty debris left by Comet Swift-Tuttle.

The annual display is one of the brightest and best-known meteor showers.

What is the Perseid meteor shower?

A digital composite of 30 photographs shows meteor and star trails during the Perseid meteor shower seen from near Hawes in the Yorkshire Dales National Park. Credit: PA

The meteors, mostly no bigger than a grain of sand, burn up as they hit the atmosphere at 58 kilometres (36 miles) per second to produce a shooting stream of light in the sky.

Peak temperatures can reach anywhere from 1,648 to 5,537 C (3,000 to 10,000 Fahrenheit) as they speed across the sky.

The meteors are called Perseids because they seem to dart out of the constellation Perseus.

Where can I see it?

Peak viewing of the Perseid meteor shower is set to take place between midnight and 5.30am. Credit: PA

If skies are clear, the Perseid meteor shower should be visible across the UK from around midnight until 5.30am, according to Royal Museums Greenwich.

“It should look like a decent night for most places,” Bonnie Diamond, a meteorologist at the Met Office said.

"Weather tonight is largely dry for many but there is potentially some showers affecting western coasts later this evening and generally dying out overnight, where it might be cloudier. So there will be a bit of cloud around but some really good gaps."

Credit: PA Graphics

Forecasts suggest that Wales, central England and southern England may offer the best weather to see the display, as well as clear spells in Scotland and Northern Ireland, but north-west England may suffer from cloudy conditions.

To make the best of the meteors, observers should avoid built-up areas and try to find an unobstructed view to the east, experts suggest.