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Spectacular meteor shower to light up UK sky tonight

Spectacular meteor shower to light up UK sky tonight

The perfect way to add some sparkle to the start of your Christmas celebrations.

The night sky is set to light up tonight as the Ursid meteor shower reaches its peak.

The shower started on December 17 and is meant to end on December 26, but December 22 and 23 are set to give us the best views.

You better keep your eyes peeled as this is likely the last meteor shower of 2023.

The Ursid meteor shower peaks tonight.

The shower coincides with winter solstice (December 22), so you have the longest possible time to spot some gorgeous shooting stars - a pretty amazing way to kick off Christmas celebrations.

Meteor showers are basically caused by the Earth wading through a cloud of debris.

When a comet gets close to the Sun, the heat makes it easier for it to break down, producing a cloud of debris.

Ursid meteors are caused by debris from the comet 8P/Tuttle - a massive 2.8 mile-wide piece of ice and rock, which goes around the sun every 13 or so years.

When the debris falls to the Earth’s atmosphere, it burns up and vaporizes with streaks of light, which we see as meteor showers.

Ursid meteors usually produce around five to 10 meteors per hour from the trail of the comet 8P/Tuttle, so make sure to have some patience.

They appear to radiate from near the Beta Ursae Minoris (Kochab) in the constellation Ursa Minor.

You'll need a bit of patience for this meteor shower.
Miguel Cano/Getty

If you fancy seeing a meteor tonight, the Royal Museums Greenwich says it’s a bit of a waiting game.

In fact, it recommends bringing “a comfy chair to sit on and to wrap up warm as you could be outside for a while”.

You won’t need binoculars to catch a glimpse, but it says it’s best to find somewhere away from sources of light pollution, and give your eyes plenty of time to adjust to the darkness.

This means the further away you are from a city, the better - so you can properly scan the sky to keep an eye out for them.

But Royal Museums Greenwich has also warned that the shower’s peak occurs when the Moon is at waxing gibbous stage, so it won’t be quite as easy to spot.

With many of us hoping for a particular gift for Christmas, tonight might be the perfect time to wish for it - while seeing a shooting star.

Featured Image Credit: YASSER AL-ZAYYAT/ Nur Photo / Getty