Is Dasher in here? Is that Prancer? It’s an Ursid, not that!
It’s important to remember that the Ursid meteor shower will be active in December, so don’t confuse it with a shooting star in the night sky around Christmas.
Every year, around the time of the Winter Solstice, when the day grows shorter and the night lengthens, the Ursids occur. Only a few meteors are visible each hour during these “low-key” showers, according to NASA, depending on a number of variables.
However, even in optimal viewing conditions, the Ursids provide up to five to ten meteors each hour. According to Earth Sky, “bursts of 100 or more meteors per hour have been observed” under unusual conditions.
Nevertheless, the Ursids provide keen observers a thrilling chance to see a brilliant shooting star streak across the night sky—as well as an additional opportunity to ask for a wish this Christmas season!
Experts advise that if you’re watching in the Northern Hemisphere, you begin aiming your gaze upward at about one in the morning local time.
For an in-depth guide to the 2023 Ursid meteor shower, including when to see it and when to peak, continue reading!
When is the peak of the Ursid meteor shower occurring?
This year’s yearly Ursids are expected to peak between December 22 and December 23, right after the clock strikes midnight. Luckily, there is still a chance for stargazers to witness this amazing display as the meteor shower is predicted to continue until December 24.
How can You watch the meteor shower called Ursids?
The likelihood of seeing a meteor in the night sky is dependent on a number of conditions, much like with other meteors. A few of the main obstacles that frequently prevent stargazers from seeing a shooting sky are light pollution, clouds, and fog.
When attempting to view a meteor shower, one must also take note of the moon because of its radiating light, which might cause light pollution. However, this isn’t always the case because it also depends on the phase of the moon on the night of the shower.
Unfortunately for us on Earth, a waxing gibbous moon occurs at the projected peak of this year’s Ursids. EarthSky states that with 86% illumination, it “may interfere with the Ursids in 2023 until the moon sets about three hours before sunrise.”
When it comes to seeing advice from Earth, the best place to be is somewhere dark and away from city lights. If you intend to spend a lot of time outside, be sure your attire is acceptable for the location of the viewing platform. (Keep in mind that the Ursids fall on the Winter Solstice, so chances are it will be chilly!)
Where in the sky does the Ursid meteor shower occur?
Leftover cometary dust and pieces from asteroids combine to form meteors. These items leave behind a dusty trail as they approach the sun. Each year, as these particles travel through the atmosphere of Earth, they collide with it and break apart, creating vibrant streaks across the sky.
Although comets are the actual source of meteor showers, the “radiant,” or the spot in the sky where stars appear to shoot, is where the meteors appear to originate to the untrained eye. The Big and Little Dipper in the constellations Ursa Major and Ursa Minor appear to be the source of this shower’s radiant for the Ursids, which is how it received its name.
You should look that way if you’re in the Northern Hemisphere, but don’t limit your attention to that area. According to Bill Cooke of NASA, “meteors close to the radiant have very short trails and are easily missed, so observers should avoid looking at that constellation.”
Which meteor shower follows the Ursids in order?
The Quadrantids begin on December 28 and run through January 12, 2024, following the Ursids. It is anticipated to peak between January 3 and January 4, 2024.
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