Eta Aquarid meteor shower 2023: where and what time to see it UK, when shooting stars peak, weather forecast

Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now
The annual meteor shower is set to peak in May - and this year the peak takes place on the same day as the coronation of King Charles III

Up to 40 shooting stars will be seen every hour when an annual meteor shower reaches its peak in May. The Eta Aquarids meteor shower takes place annually between 19 April and 28 May, but is set to peak in the early hours of 6 May. This means that, in 2023, it takes place on the same day as the coronation of King Charles III.

The shower is also due to be extra special for another reason this year due to the number of meteors experts predict will be visible. People can usually expect to see an average of 30 shooting stars per hour, but this year the spectacle may be even more stunning as there could be an additional 10 stars an hour. Experts believe that there could be an "outburst" of meteors in the sky. Bill Cooke, lead for NASA's Meteoroid Environment Office, told Insider: "When you go outside during the Eta Aquarids this year, you'll see particles from Comet Halley that started their journey in the time of King David."

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

So, what is the meteor shower, what causes it, and when can you see the shooting stars? Here’s what you need to know.

What is the Eta Aquarids meteor shower?

The Eta Aquarids happens when the Earth passes through the tail of Halley’s Comet, which orbits the sun around once every 76 years. Each time that Halley’s Comet returns to the inner solar system its nucleus sheds a layer of ice and rock into space and those dust grains eventually become the Eta Aquarids between April and May. The last time Halley’s Comet was seen by casual observers was in 1986, and therefore it will not enter the inner solar system again until 2061.

When is the Eta Aquarids meteor shower?

The Eta Aquarids meteor shower takes place every year between 19 April and 28 May. During that time, shooting stars will be visible in the night sky during the pre-dawn hours..

Dust grains from the comet, along with stones and other debris from the comet’s tail, burn up in the Earth’s atmosphere and that’s when shooting stars appear in the sky during the meteor shower. According to NASA, Eta Aquarid meteors are particularly known for their speed. They travel at about 148,000 mph (66 km/s) into Earth’s atmosphere, and that can leave glowing trains, known as shooting stars, which are incandescent bits of debris left in the wake of the meteor. These last for several seconds to minutes, and are seen all across the world.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad
The Eta Aquarids meteor shower takes place annually between 19 April and 28 May, but is set to peak on 6 May in 2023.The Eta Aquarids meteor shower takes place annually between 19 April and 28 May, but is set to peak on 6 May in 2023.
The Eta Aquarids meteor shower takes place annually between 19 April and 28 May, but is set to peak on 6 May in 2023. | Benedict - stock.adobe.com

When can I see the Eta Aquarids meteor shower?

The Eta Aquarids meteor shower always peaks in early May. This year it will peak between midnight and dawn on Saturday 6 May 2023, according to Royal Observatory Greenwich. If you miss the shower at its peak, don’t worry as it will be visible until Sunday 28 May.

What will the weather forecast be in the UK?

A detailed forecast for the UK on Saturday 6 May is not yet available via the Met Office, but experts state that there were will be "fewer showers" than on Friday 5 May, and there will also be "brighter spells", with "some rain in the west later". Temperatures are expected to be around normal for the time of the year, somewhere between 9C and 15C. We'll update this page with a more detailed forecast when it is available.

Cooke has, however, warned that his year the moon will be full when the shower reaches its peak, which means there's a chance it will outshine the meteors.  He told Insider: "The light from the full moon increases the background of the sky, which washes out the faint meteors."

What’s the best way to see the meteor shower?

The best way for stargazers to view the Eta Aquarids meteor shower is to find an area well away from city or street lights, according to NASA. You do not need any kind of specialist equipment to see the meteor shower, but people are advised to take items with them so they can be as comfortable as possible, such as a sleeping bag, blanket or chair.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

You should lie flat on your back with your feet facing east and look up, taking in as much of the sky as possible. You need to be patient though, it will take about 30 minutes for your eyes to adapt to the dark and only then will you begin to see meteors. The show will last until dawn, so you have plenty of time to catch a glimpse of the shooting stars.

Comment Guidelines

National World encourages reader discussion on our stories. User feedback, insights and back-and-forth exchanges add a rich layer of context to reporting. Please review our Community Guidelines before commenting.