The sky will show off before the year bids goodbye this December as the Ursid meteor shower arrives once again. Compiled in this article is how, when and where to see the shooting stars.
The Ursids are associated with the Comet 8P/Tuttle that was first discovered in 1790 and then re-discovered in 1858 by Horace Tuttle, thus also getting the name Mechain-Tuttle Comet. The meteor’s radiant lies in the Ursa Minor constellation, which is the point in the sky where it appears the meteor is coming from, thus the name.
NASA meteor expert Bill Cooke told SPACE.com that the Ursid meteors are just “about average.” When compared to the Geminids and Perseids, the Ursids are not “noted for fireballs” like them. Thus to see the meteor shower, a really dark sky is needed.
Ursid Meteors: How To See The Shooting Stars?
The Ursids produce a couple of shootings stars or meteors by an average of around 5 to 10 per hour at its peak. Previously, though, the sky show was more spectacular with about 50 per hour according to skywatchers in 1945 and 1986.
This year, viewing the Ursid meteor shower will be quite difficult to see as it also falls a couple of days before the full moon making the sky much brighter. But still, the Ursid meteor shower can be seen without special equipment and binoculars as the meteor shower can be enjoyed with only just the naked eye and a really dark sky.
Ursid Meteors: When Can They Be Seen?
The Ursids usually arrive at the end of the year, around the time of December solstice, and can be viewed from Dec. 17 to 24. The Ursid meteor shower’s peak, meanwhile, will be on Dec. 21 and 22, which means more shooting stars can be seen around that time as compared to other days.
According to Robert Lunsford of American Meteor Society, the moon will be a problem in viewing the Ursids as the bright moon can “obscure the fainter meteors.” Therefore, observers are suggested to view the skies on the morning of Dec. 22 – around the time after midnight and before sunrise.
The Ursids will appear to be flying away from Little Dipper, or Ursa Minor, until the meteor shower radiant will climb higher in the sky before dawn. To catch the longer tails of the meteor showers, observers are advised to look a little bit away from the radiant.
Ursid Meteors: Where Should They Be Viewed?
The shooting stars can be viewed in the areas in Northern Hemisphere. The location should also be as far away from the city as possible as light pollution can obscure the view. The key is to look for an area that gives a view of the dark sky with a really wide-viewing point.
Seeing the Ursid meteor shower is surely one special way to kick start the holiday season.
Photo source: Unsplash Creative Commons