Shooting star display to light up the skies tonight

They last a split second but shooting stars are a spectacular sight. Credit: PA

If you want to see a shooting star, tonight is the night to watch the skies as the Earth is bombarded by a shower of small meteors. The planet is currently passing through the cloud left by an orbiting rock called 3200 Phaethon and the dust particles left behind will enter our atmosphere and burn up as shooting stars.

Astronomers say the best time to watch the skies will be 2am on Sunday morning. The meteors will appear to come from a point next to the constellation Gemini which will be almost overhead at that time. As a result, this shower of shooting stars is known as the Geminids.

The meteors burn up around 24 miles above the Earth so they will be impossible to see if there is cloud cover. Street lights will also make them harder to see. And as they travel at around 80,000 miles per hour, they burn up in less than a second when they hit the atmosphere.