The Ursids bring the last meteor shower of 2022

The Ursids bring the last meteor shower of 2022


A gift from the heavens arrives just in time for the holidays: the Ursids meteor shower. This celestial event will be the last meteor shower of 2022.

Ursids typically produce only five to ten visible meteors per hour. according to EarthSky. Although the rates are not as high as other annuals, this year’s rain will be close to the maximum night of December 21 with a new moon with only 3% fullnesswhich offers particularly high visibility for people in the Northern Hemisphere, where it will be visible.

The Ursids have occasionally been known to top 25 meteors per hour, and even 100 meteors per hour in 1945 and 1986. But NASA isn’t expecting anything out of the ordinary this year, according to Bill Cooke, manager of NASA’s Meteoroid Environment Office. .

An expert reveals the best way to see a meteor shower

The Ursids shower started on December 13th and will be active until December 24th. Still, Cooke suggests seeing the meteor shower near the night of its peak, if not that night, then the night before or after.

“They’re not very faint, but they’re not very bright either. The Ursids are a nice medium-strength meteor shower,” Cooke said. “They’re certainly not the Geminids or the Perseids, but hey, if you’ve got time to kill while you’re waiting for Santa, that’s probably a good thing.”

Ursids are often overlooked due to their proximity to the Geminid shower, which peaked on December 13th and can also be seen until December 24th.

“Meteor spotters historically haven’t spent much time with this one since it falls so close to Christmas,” Cooke said. “Meteor science undergraduates used to call them the ‘Cursed Ursids’ because no one wanted to get stuck watching them.”

But any meteor shower can still be an impressive sight. If optimal viewing conditions are enough to entice casual viewers to brave the cold for a chance to see an Ursida meteor, Robert Lunsford, fireball reporting coordinator for the American Meteor Society, recommends looking – it during the early hours of the morning of December 22.

“(The Ursids) can be very irregular. I’ve seen them in perfect conditions and I haven’t seen any, and other times, I’ve seen them explode at 25 an hour,” Lunsford said. “You don’t know what you’re going to get, but the conditions are almost perfect this year. If you go out in a dark sky, you’ll probably see five to 10 ursids per hour.

The Ursids come from Comet 8P/Tuttle (also known as Comet Tuttle), an older comet that doesn’t produce much debris. In the sky, the meteors appear to radiate from the constellation Ursid Minor, better known as the Little Bear. To differentiate these meteors from the Geminids, viewers should locate the constellation and identify which meteors appear to be coming from its direction.

“They are visible throughout the night, because the radiant is very, very far north and never sets,” Lunsford said. “During the evening hours, (the radiant) will be just a hair above the northern horizon, which means most of the meteors will be blocked by the horizon, so your best bet is to look during the last two hours before dawn.”

The further north you are, the better the visibility of this event, Lunsford said. (For those in the southern hemisphere, the rain will not be visible, as the radiant will not rise above the horizon.)

Although this shower is the last of the year, sky watchers won’t have to wait for the peak of the Quantrantides meteor display, which will ring in the new year a little late at night of January 3, 2023.

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