When is the next meteor shower in the UK? © Getty Images

When is the next meteor shower in the UK?

Your guide to when you can see shooting stars in the UK, including how many you can expect to spot.

Watching a meteor shower can be a magical event. Stare up at the night sky, face the right direction, allow your eyes to adjust and just wait. When you finally see a burst of light, it will be worth the wait (and the cold!).

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That is, if you’re out on the right night. Get the date wrong and you might be disappointed to see only one or two, if any.

Of course, there’s plenty more to see in the night sky, so check out our complete astronomy for beginners UK guide.

What is a meteor shower?

A meteor shower is a stream of shooting stars that appears to come from one particular area of the sky.

As comets travel around the Sun, they leave a trail of debris behind. When these fragments, most of which are smaller than a grain of sand, enter the Earth’s atmosphere, we call them meteors.

Meteors travel at incredibly high speeds and almost all of them completely disintegrate on their journey through the atmosphere. What we see is the flash of light they give off as they disintegrate.

A meteor shower is named for the area of the sky where the meteors appear to originate. For example, the Lyrids seem to come from the constellation of Lyra, and the Leonids from Leo.

When is the next meteor shower in the UK?

The next meteor shower to grace the skies of the UK is the Eta Aquariids. The shower is expected to be visible between 18 April and 27 May, with the peak on 6 May. You can expect to see around 40 shooting stars per hour.

If you miss this shower, don’t worry: there are several more you can catch this year. The dates of when you can see each shower, plus the peak and the number you can expect to see per hour, are below.

Eta Aquariids

Visible: 18 April – 27 May

Peak: 6 May

Rate/hour: 40

Delta Aquariids

Visible: 13 July – 24 August

Peak: 30 July

Rate/hour: 20

Alpha Capricornids

Visible: 2 July – 14 August

Peak: 30 July

Rate/hour: 5

Perseids

Visible: 16 July – 23 August

Peak: 12-13 August

Rate/hour: 150

Draconids

Visible: 7-11 October

Peak: 8-9 October

Rate/hour: Variable

Orionids

Visible: 1-6 October

Peak: 21 October

Rate/hour: 15

Taurids

Visible: 20 October – 10 December

Peak: 12 November

Rate/hour: 5

Leonids

Visible: 5-29 November

Peak: 17-18 November

Rate/hour: 15

Geminids

Visible: 3-16 December

Peak: 14 December

Rate/hour: 120

Ursids

Visible: 17-26 December

Peak: 22-23 December

Rate/hour: 10

Quadrantids

Visible: 28 December to 12 January

Peak: 3-4 January

Rate/hour: 120

Lyrids

Visible: 13-29 April

Peak: 22 April

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Rate/hour: 18