Ursid meteor shower to light up night sky - here are the best times to watch

A shot of the Leonid meteor shower Credit: PA

The final meteor shower of the year runs right up to Christmas, giving people hours to watch them shoot through the night sky.

The peak of the Ursid meteor shower burns up through the Earth’s atmosphere in bright trails across the sky on Tuesday and Wednesday night.

Up to 10 meteors an hour - a relatively low number for a shower - is viewable near the Ursa Minor constellation and will continue until Christmas eve.

What is the Ursid meteor shower?

The Ursid meteors stem from a stream of debris from the 8P/Tuttle comet

The entire meteor shower occurs annually from 17 December to 26 December.

Dr Greg Brown, astronomer at the Royal Observatory Greenwich, said: “The Ursids meteor shower is a fairly minor display occurring in late December. With at best around 10 meteors per hour in ideal conditions, many observers won’t see more than a few meteors even around the peak."

Another meteor shower, the Quadrantids, will start soon after on Boxing Day for almost a month, but it is only expected to be fully viewable for six hours on January 2.

A meteor is a space rock that enters Earth atmosphere and burns up as it falls to the ground.

The extreme heat generated by entering the atmosphere burns up the air around it creating the bright streak we see on the ground - these are often called shooting stars.

Where to look to see the meteors Credit: PA

What will the weather be like on Tuesday and Wednesday evening?

The best chance of getting a few cloud breaks are expected to happen in the west.

The weather is predicted to be a bit clearer on Wednesday so that could be the best opportunity to see the meteors in Britain.

If you're lucky enough to see one you should get a glimpse of them burning up through the Earth’s atmosphere in bright trails across the sky.

A good view of the horizon is required Credit: PA

How can I watch the Ursid meteor shower?

You will need to get away from light pollution so try and find a good open spot with a low horizon in the countryside away from towns or cities.

Fortunately, we've just had a full moon meaning the lunar light that could block out the meteors won't be at its peak.

You should be able to see the meteors burn through the sky without any special equipment but binoculars or a telescope would give you a better view.

It is expected the very peak of the shower will be in the first few hours of December 23 around 1am.

So make sure you dress warmly and be ready for a bit of a wait.

The shower cannot be seen from the southern hemisphere.