UK astronomical events in October 2023: from meteor to a partial lunar eclipse - how and when to watch

October is also known as meteor season Picture: Menahem Kahana/AFP via Getty Images
October is also known as meteor season Picture: Menahem Kahana/AFP via Getty Images

October is known for its autumnal aesthetics on Earth, but the night sky is alive with vigour.

As it gets darker earlier, it becomes the perfect month to begin stargazing as October is known as aurora season, and meteor season.

So what is happening this month in the astronomical world? Here is what you need to know.

2 October: Andromeda Galaxy reaches its peak

Around midnight on 2 October, the Andromeda Galaxy - the nearest galaxy to us - will reach its peak.

It will be visible all night around 39 degrees above the Eastern horizon but will require some equipment, such as a telescope as there will also be a gibbous moon.

5 October: the Camelopardalis meteor shower

From 5-6 October the Camelopardalis meteor shower will be visible in the night sky.

Camelopardalis is a large constellation that represents a giraffe and sits between Ursa Major and Cassiopeia.

The shower will be slow, at roughly 5 meteors an hour so this event may require a bit of patience.

9 October: the peak of the Draconid Meteor Shower

Around midnight on the 9 October (from 8-9 October) the Draconid meteor shower will be visible to see with the naked eye, despite the full moon.

It will take place in the Draco constellation, near the star of Vega.

However, the amount of meteors that will shower will be unpredictable as some years it is very active and other years, not quite so much.

10 October: the Southern Taurid Meteor Shower

The Southern Taurids are named because of a split in the Taurids meteor shower caused by gravitational perturbations, that come especially from Jupiter. This results in two different branches of the meteor shower.

Again, this is a slow shower, seen in the constellation of Taurus, and there will be around 5 meteors per hour.

14 October - New Moon

The new moon will be visible on the night of 14 October. In North and South America, there will be a solar eclipse, which means people in the UK will only be seeing the Moon side of the event.

21 October - The Orionid Meteors

If you are looking towards seeing a fast meteor shower, the Orionid meteors are for you. The meteors will be coming in at a rate of 25 meteors per hour and should be leaving trains behind them.

28 October - Partial Lunar Eclipse

The UK will see a partial lunar eclipse on the night of 28 October.

A partial lunar eclipse happens when the Moon passes through the Earth's penumbra (the outer region of the Earth’s shadow), and only a section of it passes through the umbra (the darkest part of the Earth’s shadow).

But in the UK, we will only see a small part of the full moon pass into the umbra.