The last display of shooting stars for the year will be visible tonight, December 21, as the Earth passes through a cloud of cometary dust.

This is known as the Ursid meteor shower, and it is expected to peak during the night of December 21. It will still be visible in the early morning of December 22, too.

This display is associated with the comet 8P/Tuttle, also known as Comet Tuttle, which orbits the Sun once every 13 years.

The Ursid meteor shower is usually sparse, producing only around five meteors per hour at its peak.

The Northern Echo: Ursid meteor shower (PA)Ursid meteor shower (PA)

This display also coincides with a first quarter Moon, so if the weather permits, shooting stars could be visible in the sky too.

Met Office Forecast for Ursid meteor shower

The Met Office forecast is not totally damning for those hoping to catch a glimpse of tonight’s meteor shower.

For much of Scotland and Northern Ireland, there will be patchy cloud that gradually breaks up.

For England and Wales, cloud disperses into the evening, making the chance of catching a glimpse of the display much better.

Temperatures are forecasted to be very low, so if you are heading out to try and catch a glimpse, be sure to wrap up warm.

Ursid meteor shower

The meteors, mostly no bigger than a grain of sand, burn up as they hit the atmosphere at 36 miles per second to produce a shooting stream of light in the sky.

Peak temperatures can reach anywhere from 1,648-5,537C as they speed across the sky.

The best way to view the shooting stars is to get away from all artificial lights and allow at least 45 minutes for the eyes to adjust to the dark.

The meteors will be visible to the naked eye.

The celestial display will also coincide with a rare planetary conjunction as Jupiter and Saturn will appear just 0.1 degrees apart – roughly equivalent to a fifth of the Moon’s diameter.

The Northern Echo: Ursid meteor shower (PA)Ursid meteor shower (PA)

This conjunction – where objects appear very close to each other in the sky – will be the closest the two planets have appeared together since 1623.

Both the gas giants will appear to the naked eye as a single bright object in the night sky, which some refer to as the “Christmas star”.

The best time to observe the conjunction is between 4.30pm and 6pm UK time.