Skygazers were treated to a spectacular display of celestial fireworks overnight as the Earth flew through a cloud of cometary dust.

The Perseid meteors, shed by comet Swift-Tuttle, stage their show every August and are among the brightest of all shooting stars.

The meteors, which are no bigger than a grain of sand, burn up as they hit the atmosphere at 58km 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 northeast known as the "radiant" which happens to be near the constellation Perseus.

Because the density of the dust cloud varies, the meteors are not evenly spaced out.

At certain times they can be close together and at others seem to disappear.

The milky way and a massive bolide over the Coral Strand, Carraroe, Galway (Pic: Maciej Latajka)
A long exposure photo shows the night sky in Kuklice, near Kratovo, Macedonia
The view as seen from Bray beach in Co Wicklow at 3.48am (Pic: David Jordan)
A couple enjoy the spectacular display of celestial fireworks
The Perseid meteor illuminates the dark sky near Comillas, Cantabria community, northern Spain

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.

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.