When and where to see the first meteor shower of 2023 as it lights up UK skies

A meteor shower Credit: PA

Stargazers will be treated to a dazzling display on Tuesday night as the Quadrantid meteor shower lights up the night sky.

The meteor shower, which is the first of 2023, is expected to peak on the night of January 3 and with clear skies will be visible until the early morning of January 4.

It is among the strongest and most consistent meteor showers, and could reach a maximum rate of 110 meteors per hour.

(PA Graphics) Credit: PA Graphics

Quadrantids are blue meteors with fine trains that appear to come from the constellation Bootes, near the Big Dipper.

Meteors are pieces of debris which enter Earth's atmosphere at speeds of up to 43 miles per second, vapourising and causing the streaks of light we call meteors.

While the shower is visible to the naked eye when in an area with low light pollution, the peak occurs just before the full moon, so moonlight will cause some interference.

"For the best conditions, you want to find a safe location away from street lights and other sources of light pollution," the Royal Observatory suggests.

"The meteors can be seen in all parts of the sky, so it’s good to be in a wide open space where you can scan the night sky with your eyes."

To increase your chances of catching sight of the display, visit one of the UK's "dark sky" reserves at one of six national parks: Exmoor, Brecon Beacons, Moore’s Reserve in the South Downs, Snowdonia, North York Moors and Yorkshire Dales. Stargazers might also get a glimpse of the celestial display at Nothumberland National Park, which is an International Dark Sky Park and boasts "England’s most pristine dark skies", according to National Parks UK.

Additionally, unlike other meteor showers that tend to stay at their peak for about two days, the peak period of the Quadrantids is only for a few hours.

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