Geminid meteor shower: Celestial light show continues over Britain's skies
Hundreds of meteors and a “Christmas Comet” are expected to continue lighting up the night sky during the Geminid meteor shower.
The skies over Britain will erupt in a seasonal light display over the weekend with an estimated 80 shooting stars an hour passing through the Earth’s atmosphere.
The streaks of coloured light are the debris of the Geminid meteors burning up in the planet’s atmosphere.
The Geminid meteors originate from a rocky asteroid known as 3200 Phaethon, and each year the Earth passes through a trail of debris left by the asteroid as it travels around the Sun.
Geminids travel slower at about 35km per second and burn brighter than most other meteors – creating long, glowing arcs of white, yellow, blue, red and green.
People looking to the southern skies on Friday should be able to see the shooting stars, although the Met Office said there will be patchy cloud overnight. However, gales, heavy rain and blizzards are expected on Saturday.
One stargazer caught the meteors on camera streaking across the skies over Gilbert in Arizona – about 20 miles south-east of Phoenix.
Twitter user @jekeyessaid captured the footage over about an hour-and-a-half.
The time-lapse video shows a few long streaks which he said are planes, but the shorter streaks show the meteors passing across the sky.
The meteor shower is expected to be visible in clear skies until Monday.
But the meteors are not the only part of the celestial Christmas light display, with Comet Wirtanen passing the Earth this weekend as well.
It will pass close enough to be visible to the naked eye in the night sky in rural and suburban areas.
Astronomers have dubbed it the “Christmas Comet” and it is predicted it will be the brightest comet of 2018.
Comet Wirtanen will be at its brightest and most visible in the southern sky mid-December as it makes its regular orbit around the planet.
But while in some dark rural areas it will be visible to the naked eye, astronomers are recommending people use binoculars or telescopes to get the best view of it.
Its closest passage by the Earth will be on Sunday, when it will be 7.2 million miles from the planet.