Things to see in the skies in 2023 including meteor showers, full moons, a partial eclipse and two August supermoons
A new astronomical calendar is set to be bursting with meteor showers, two supermoons and a partial lunar eclipse.
If you're fascinated by what's happening in the skies above us, here's some important 2023 dates for your diary.
1. Quadrantid meteor shower, January 3
This meteor shower actually begins around mid-December in 2022 but it won't reach its peak until early this month.
If the skies remain, clear the Quadrantids should peak overnight between Tuesday, January 3 and Wednesday, January 4.
According to the Royal Observatory at Greenwich, the Quadrantid meteor shower is among the strongest and most consistent meteor showers, and could reach a maximum rate of 110 meteors per hour on a clear night. While binoculars and telescopes aren't required to spot them, avoiding light pollution and finding clear skies will help you see the best of the displays.
2. Wolf Moon, January 6
The first full moon of 2023 will be on Friday, January 6. Each full moon is given its own name by stargazers which is closely associated with the seasons and time of year that full moon occurs.
The Wolf Moon is thought to takes its name from an assumption that wolves are more likely to howl at this time of year.
Other full Moons worth looking out for in 2023:
3. Lyrid meteor shower, April 22
The Lyrid meteor shower produces a burst of meteor activity around mid to late April. Meteors are created by small chunks of debris that come from objects like asteroids or comets, which as the Earth passes through the trail of material it brings some of the trail with it into the atmosphere.
In 2023, the best time to see the Lyrid meteor shower is thought to be from late evening on April 22 into the early hours of April 23. And while in 2022 the Lyrids were more difficult to spot because of the light from a full moon, this year conditions could be more favourable.
4. Eta Aquarids meteor shower, May 6
The Eta Aquarids meteor shower is actually active from around April 19 and will run until May 28 but its peak will be at some point between midnight and dawn on May 6, 2023.
Caused by the Comet Halley, the meteors appear low in the sky and are best seen away from light pollution. However because this year the peak does occur close to a full Moon there is a chance, say experts, that the Moon's light may mean stargazers will struggle to get the very best view of the fireworks.
5. Supermoon, August 1 and August 31
A full moon can be seen in the skies above us every 29.5 days but occasionally each year a special kind of full moon – called a supermoon –occurs.
A supermoon is the result of a full moon happening when it is near its closest point to the Earth in its orbit, known as perigee, making it appear bigger and brighter than at most other times.
And in August 2023 there will be two summer supermoons at the start and end of the month promising to be, say the experts at Greenwich's observatory, 14% bigger and 30% brighter compared with the Moon when it is furthest away.
6. Perseid meteor shower, August 12 and 13
The Perseid meteor shower is active from July 17 until the end of August but is set to produce it's best displays for those hoping to catch a glimpse, around August 12 and 13.
Described by Royal Museums Greenwich as one of the best and brightest meteor showers because it is so active around the peak, you can almost begin looking for them in the skies above you as soon as the Sun sets.
However the very best of the fireworks could be between midnight and 5.30am – and with this spectacle set to peak in the middle of the school holidays it can also be an ideal event for the whole family to enjoy.
7. Orionid meteor shower, October 21
In 2023 the Orionid meteor shower is active from October 2 until November 7, peaking overnight between October 21 and 22 sometime between midnight and dawn.
However very often you can see the Orionids for a few days either side of the peak so if you miss them, weather conditions aren't favourable around October 21 or the light from the Moon obscures the display, don't be afraid to have another look on another evening around that week.
8. Partial Lunar Eclipse, October 28
A partial solar eclipse happens when the Moon passes between the Sun and the Earth but unlike in a total solar eclipse, the Sun's light is not blocked out entirely. For a lunar eclipse, the Moon passes through the Earth's shadow. This is a partial lunar eclipse which means some parts of the Moon will still be illuminated by the Sun.
October's event takes place on Monday, October 28 and is predicted to be visible over UK, Europe and parts of the Middle East if conditions allow.
9. Germinid meteor shower, December 14
The Germinid meteor shower takes place for around two weeks in December but is expected to be at its biggest and best around December 14 come the end of 2023.
During a good display there could be up to 150 meteors every hour when the meteors are directly overhead, providing that weather conditions are good, the sky is dark and sky gazers are able to find some clear skies away from light pollution.