Products You May Like
The Ursid meteors are seen every year around the winter solstice on December 21 and will continue until Christmas Eve.
But stargazers across the globe are most excited to see the shower’s peak between Friday December 22 and Saturday December 23.
The meteor shower is a lesser one to bring the year to a close, but it is still known to produce anywhere between five and 10 meteors an hour.
This year Royal Observatory Greenwich is expecting at least five shooting stars to break out in the sky every hour.
And according to Bruce McClure of EarthSky.org, unexpected outbursts of 100 meteors have happened in the past.
What time is the Ursid meteor shower in your area?
The Ursids are not very active therefore good timing could be key to catching the shower this year.
Astronomer Tom Kerss said: “The peak is expected around 3pm GMT on Friday December 22.
“Best time to be viewing is in the evening from sunset onwards on Friday.
“The Ursids are pretty consistent with a ZHR (Zenithal hourly rate) of about 10, so we can expect one or two bright ones per hour if we’re lucky.”
Stargazers in the mid-northern hemisphere can expect see approximately 11 “sporadic meteors” during the last hour before dawn, according to Robert Lunsford from the American Meteor Society.
The astronomer said: “Rates will be low early in the week but will peak on Friday December 22, when hourly rates should reach five to 10 per hour.
“At 33 km/sec the Ursids would produce mostly medium speed meteors.”
Evening rates will be much slower, with only four falling stars every hour.
Tropical southern latitudes will witness slightly lesser rates of around nine per hour in the morning and only about three during the evening.
Mr Lunsford added: “Locations between these two extremes would see activity between the listed figures.”
The observing conditions this year are expected to be all but ideal with the waxing crescent moon setting before midnight on Friday, so it will not obscure your view.
Click here to find out when the moon will set in your area.
The Observatory said: “The shower also occurs around the time of the winter solstice, so you will have maximum hours of darkness for stargazing!
“Hunting for meteors, like the rest of astronomy, is a waiting game, so it’s best to bring a comfy chair to sit on and to wrap up warm as you could be outside for a while.”
Where will the Ursid meteors appear in the night sky?
According to NASA’s Jane Houston Jones, the Ursids will radiate from a point in the night sky near Ursa Minor, the Little Dipper constellation.
She said: “If December 22 and the morning of December 23 are clear where you are, have a look at the Little Dipper’s bowl, and you might see about ten meteors per hour.”
The Observatory has advised all stargazers to avoid lit up areas and to seek out spots where you can watch the night skies clearly.
Once they burst out, the meteors will be visible in all parts of the sky. The good news is that they will be clearly visible to the naked eye so there is no need to use a telescope or binoculars.
What are the Ursid meteors?
The Ursids are bits and pieces of comet debris left in the orbital path of Comet 8P/Tuttle, which was first discovered in 1790.
The speeding comet trails around the sun every 14 years and, unlike some of its fellow comets and asteroids, it is not too bright in the night sky.
The Ursid shower itself was first recorded England in 1900 and has since become a staple in astronomical calendars.
“They’re about average,” said NASA’s meteor expert Bill Cooke. “The Ursids are not noted for fireballs, like the Geminids and the Perseids. You will need a dark sky to see them.”