Meteor shower to peak tonight: How to see shooting stars

NASA capture incredible 'fireball' during Perseid meteor shower

Astronomers have confirmed that the Sigma Hydrids meteor shower will peak this evening, December 7. The meteor shower is a small one, with an average of five meteors per hour expected.

Little is known about the Sigma Hydrids and their origin, as they are the leftovers of a comet which is currently unknown to scientists.

As small specks of ice and debris fall from the comet, they float around in space.

Earth then travels through the debris field, causing the specks of ice and dust to rain down into Earth’s atmosphere, giving the impression of shooting stars.

According to astronomers, the flakes during the Sigma Hydrids meteor shower hit Earth at an average speed of 58 kilometres per second.

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Scientists believe tonight is the peak, as there has been a slow build-up of shooting stars over the past few nights.

Following the peak tonight, experts believe the number of shooting stars will begin to dwindle until they disappear on December 9 – meaning Earth will have made its way through the debris field of the unknown comet.

The Sigma Hydrids get their name from the constellation they appear in – Hydra.

Astronomy site Space Weather said: “Earth is passing through a stream of debris from an unknown comet, and this is producing a minor meteor shower called the sigma Hydrids.

“Last night, NASA’s network of all-sky meteor cameras recorded 6 sigma Hydrid fireballs over the USA.

“Forecasters expect the shower to peak on Dec. 7th with 3 to 5 meteors per hour streaming from the constellation Hydra (the Sea Monster).”

You can begin looking for shooting stars now by simply looking at the constellation Hydra.

The Royal Greenwich Observatory said: “Hunting for meteors, like the rest of astronomy, is a waiting game, so it’s best to bring a comfy chair to sit on and to wrap up warm as you could be outside for a while.

“They can be seen with the naked eye so there’s no need for binoculars or a telescope, though you will need to allow your eyes to adjust to the dark.

“For the best conditions, you want to find a safe location away from street lights and other sources of light pollution.”

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