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Follow the wandering star! Moment meteor shower streaks across the night sky over Essex on Christmas Day

Posted at Dec 27, 2020

This is the stunning moment a meteor shower shot across the night sky near Essex on Christmas Day.

Photographer Paul Rowe captured the incredible pictures of the shooting stars streaking through the atmosphere above Colchester in Essex on December 25.  

The annual display, known as the Ursid meteor shower, was at its peak on Dec 21 and 22 but the shower but continued into Christmas Day.

Shooting stars were pictured across the night sky near Colchester in Essex on Christmas Day

WHAT IS A METEOROID? 

A meteoroid is a small chunk of asteroid or comet. 

When it enters Earth's atmosphere it becomes a meteor, fireball or shooting star. 

The pieces of rock that hit the ground are meteorites, and are valuable to collectors. 

The remnants must be analyzed by a lab to be accredited as meteorites.

 

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The shower is created by debris from Comet 8P Tuttle smashing into the Earth's atmosphere, with as many as five to ten shooting stars an hour. 

As specks of ice and dust left in the wake of the comet hit the Earth's atmosphere at 45 miles per second, they cause the appearance of shooting stars.

The shooting stars emanated from the Ursa Minor constellation, also known as the Little Bear, and made for some truly fantastic shots. 

The Ursid shower takes place every year between 17 and 23 December.

The best way to see a meteor shower is in areas away from any light pollution such as heavily lit areas of urban towns and cities.

Incredible pictures of the Ursid meteor shower display were captured by photographer Paul Rowe

The annual display was at its peak on Dec 21 and 22 but the shower continued into Christmas Day

TIPS FOR SPOTTING SHOOTING STARS 

'The best thing you can do to maximise the number of meteors you'll see is to get as far away from urban light pollution as possible and find a location with a clear, unclouded view of the night sky,' Nasa says. 

Search for the darkest patch of sky, as meteors can appear anywhere overhead.

The meteors will always travel in a path away from the constellation the shower is named after - in this case, the Ursa Minor.

The apparent point of origin is called the 'radiant'.

Searching for the constellation in the night sky, could help viewers spot more shooting stars.

Nasa advises dressing up warmly and bringing something comfortable to lie or sit upon and advises people plan to stay outside looking at the skies for at least half an hour.

It advises putting away telescopes and binoculars.

'Using either reduces the amount of sky you can see at one time, lowering the odds that you'll see anything but darkness. Instead, let your eyes hang loose and don't look in any one specific spot.

'Relaxed eyes will quickly zone in on any movement up above, and you'll be able to spot more meteors.'

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