Thousands of stargazers witnessed a spectacular meteor shower last night.

It lit up the skies across the north of England and was spotted as far south as Peterborough.

The meteor exploded after streaking across the night sky for more than 30 seconds.

England Fireball_1
© The Daily Mail, UK
Starstruck: The meteor, visible in the top right hand corner of this image as an elongated white streak, was seen in the skies across the north of England and was spotted as far south as Peterborough.
The shower was seen at various locations across England, including Manchester, Derbyshire and the Lake District.

Hundreds of people posted messages on Twitter after witnessing the event unfold. Scores even put their own video footage of the shower on the internet.

The meteor was first spotted at 9.38pm but other sightings were reported until 9.45pm - which backed up speculation on Twitter that there had been more than one meteor.

Some reports suggested there was a large meteor followed by a series of smaller ones.

One Twitter user wrote: 'The Amazing #Meteor looked like a plane from Man Airport but then seems to rise and burn up in front of me near #JodrellBank.'

Meteors - or shooting stars - are the result of small particles entering the Earth's atmosphere at high speed.

They burn up and shine as a short-lived streak of light.

Meteor showers in the UK are fairly common, but it is rare that there is a clear enough night for people to see them across the length of the country.

They are also not normally as large or as close as those spotted last night.

The last meteor shower passed overhead in January.

That show was brief but intense and those who caught it witnessed 60 and 200 meteor streaks an hour.

One of the annual displays - known as the Geminid meteor shower - comes from the remains of an extinct comet.

Some experts believe it is becoming more spectacular. At its peak up to 100 shooting stars may be seen every hour.