Ursid Meteor Shower – When to see it

The Ursid meteor shower will be a little obscured by the moon this year, however it's still worth checking it out if you want to see some meteors.

How many will I see?

It's not the most prolific meteor shower of the year, but you can still expect to see around 5 to 10 shooting stars per hour.

It can however surprise you, as it did in 1945 and 1986 for example, when around 50 meteors were observed every hour.

Will I see any fireballs?

It's not likely unfortunately. some of the other meteor showers, such as the Perseids and the Geminids are known for fireballs, but the Ursids are a far more reserved bunch.

When can I see them?

The best time to see the Ursids are on the morning of December 22nd (after midnight and before sunrise). This is when they will be at their peak. However they will be somewhat obscured by the half-moon this year - but there is still a great chance of seeing some meteors.

Where do I look?

The radiant for the Ursids is neat the bowl of the Little Dipper (or Ursa Minor), which is near the north Pole star. However, the radiant is only where the meteors appear to come from - but they can be seen all over the night sky.

Where do they come from?

The Ursids come from ice and debris from the Comet 8P/Tuttle. This comet was discovered originally in 1790, and then re-discovered by the American astronomer, Horace Tuttle in 1858.

Comet 8P/Tuttle orbits the sun every 14 years.

The Ursid meteor shower was first recorded in the UK in 1900.

How do I get the best view of the Ursids?

It's best to find somewhere as far away from city or town pollution as possible. The darker the sky, the better.

Give your eyes around 20 to 30 minutes to adjust to the darkness, then look up in the direction of Ursa Minor:

Ursids Meteor Shower

You don't need any special equipment to see metor showers - in fact, binoculars and telescopes reduce your chances, as they narrow your field of view.

Just make sure you wrap up warm - as on any night, it could get very cold very quickly.

Can I take pictures of a meteor shower?

Of course you can. You just need to plan it out. There is a guide you can follow below:

Wrapping it all up

Look up during the dark hours of the morning of the 22nd of December each year, and you may be lucky enough to spot up to 10 meteors per hour, called the Ursids, originating from the Comet 8p/Tuttle.

All the best, Mark

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