Ursid Meteor Shower 2017: When is it? Where can you see it?  | Science | News

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Stargazers can expect to see an intense burst of shooting stars known as Ursid meteors at 2.29am EST time in the skies, according to .

The best time to view the Ursids are between midnight and before dawn.

What is the Ursid meteor shower?

The spectacular event, caused by dust particles left behind by comet 8P/Tuttle, is expected to last between two and three hours on the night after the shortest day of the year.

The comet, first discovered in 1790, before being re-discovered by Horace Tuttle in 1858, orbits the sun every 14 years and hasn’t been seen for six years.

The good news for this year’s shower is that a young moon, known as a waxing crescent, will provide prime watching conditions as the light will not obstruct the view of the night sky.

It means Ursid watchers can see the luminous display with the naked eye so no binoculars or telescopes are required.

Where can you see it?

Previous Ursid meteor showers have been spectacular. In 1945 and 1986, up to 50 meteors were spotted per hour.

This year, up to 10 meteors an hour are predicted with the best chances of viewing expected over the US and Canada.

To maximise your chances, The Royal Observatory in Greenwich says people should avoid light pollution such as street lights.

Dr Peter Jenniskens, of the SETI Institute, who is based at NASA’s Silicon Valley research centre, said previous showers have been used to make this year’s predictions.

He said: “The normally ordinary-looking Ursids have long puzzled researchers because of the two intense showers seen in 1945 and 1986.

“Both of these very spectacular showers lagged the passage of the comet by as much as 6 years. 

“By the time these meteors hit the Earth, the comet was on its way back to the outer reaches of the solar system, almost as far from Earth as it ever gets.”

The Met Office is predicting drier, brighter and cooler weather later on in the week although skies may turn cloudier.

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