perseid meteor shower
The meteor shower will be visible across the UK and US Mike Blake/Reuters

Shooting stars will light up the night sky this week during the annual Leonid meteor shower, due to peak on 18 November. The shower will be visible from most places around the world, including the UK and the US. American skywatchers can expect to see up to 15 meteors per hour between midnight and dawn.

The shooting stars from the Leonid meteor shower appear to come from the constellation Leo, which lies between Cancer to the west and Virgo to the east. Associated with the comet Tempel-Tuttle, the Leonid meteor shower takes place when the Earth passes through the debris field left behind by the comet.

What are meteor showers?

Meteors come from leftover comet particles from broken asteroids. When comets pass around the sun, the dust they emit turns into a trail around their orbits. The Earth passes through these debris trails and the particles collide with our atmosphere where they disintegrate and burn up, creating flashes of light across the sky.

For the best chance of seeing a meteor shower, find an area with little light pollution where you can set up camp with a sleeping bag, blanket or chair – as you might be in for the long haul. Nasa advises to lie flat on your back so you have a panoramic view of the night sky. It will take around 30 minutes for your eyes to adapt to the dark, which will help you spot the shower.