Stargazers capture spectacular pictures of night sky lit up by the Perseid meteor shower

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Stargazers from around the world captured spectacular pictures over the weekend as the night sky was lit up by the Perseid meteor shower.

The celestial display happened as the Earth flew through a cloud of cometary dust that had been shed by comet Swift-Tuttle.

The stunning display happens every August and showcases the brightest of all shooting stars.

And this year, as many as two of the streaking flashes of light could be visible every minute given a good location away from built up areas and clear skies.

Spectacle: The shower over the artificial lake Kozjak above Skopje, Macedonia (AFP/Getty Images)

Photos of the event depict skies of deep blue and orange adorned with streaks of light as keen photographers captured the meteors flying past.

Although mostly no bigger than a grain of sand, the meteors burn up as they hit the atmosphere at 58 kilometres (36 miles) per second to produce a shooting stream of light in the sky.

Seen from the Earth, the Perseids appear to originate from one place in the north-east known as the “radiant” which happens to be near the constellation Perseus.

A meteor seen from near Hawes in the Yorkshire Dales National Park (PA)

The Perseids were the first meteor shower to be linked to a comet when astronomer Giovanni Schiaparelli spotted their association with Swift-Tuttle in 1862.

The comet orbits the sun every 135 years and, as the Earth crosses its orbit, it ploughs through some of the debris left by the icy object on previous visits. 

None of the particles are big enough to avoid destruction and reach the ground.

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