Look to the sky for the last meteor shower of the year | CNN


A gift from heaven coming just in time for the holidays – the Ursids meteor shower. This celestial event will be the last meteor shower of 2022.

The Ursids typically produce about five to 10 visible meteors per hour, according to EarthSky. While rates are not as high as other annuals, this year’s shower is set to peak on the night of December 21st with a new moon only 3% full, providing an especially impressive view for people in the Northern Hemisphere, where it will be possible to view .

Occasionally, the Ursids have been known to exceed 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 Cook, chief of NASA’s Meteorite Environment Office.

Source: CNN Business
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An expert reveals the best way to see a meteor shower

The Ursids shower began on December 13th and will remain active until December 24th. However, Cooke suggests watching the meteor shower near the night of its zenith – if not on that night, then before or after it.

“They’re not terribly weak, but they’re not terribly bright either. The Ursids are a good medium-strength meteor shower,” Cook said. “They’re definitely not Gemini or Perseids, but if you have time to kill while waiting for Santa, they’re probably good doing it.”

Ursids are often overlooked due to their proximity to the Geminids shower, which peaks on December 13th and can also be observed until December 24th.

“Meteor watchers historically haven’t spent a lot of time with this watch since it got around Christmas,” Cook said. “Meteorite graduate students used to call them the ‘damned Ursids’ because nobody wanted to get stuck observing them.”

But a meteor shower can still be an amazing sight. If optimal viewing conditions are enough to entice casual onlookers to brave the cold for a chance to spot the Ursids meteor, Robert Lunsford, fireball report coordinator for the American Meteor Society, recommends viewing during the early morning hours of December 22.

“(Ursids) can be quite anomalous. I’ve seen them in perfect conditions and I’ve seen none of it, and other times, I’ve seen them explode at a rate of 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 into a dark sky, you’ll probably see between five and 10 Urcydes per hour.”

The Ursids come from Comet 8P/Tuttle (aka Tuttle’s Comet), an older comet that doesn’t produce much debris. In the sky, meteors appear to radiate from the constellation Ursid Minor, more commonly known as the Little Dipper. To distinguish these meteorites from the Geminids, viewers must locate the constellation and identify which meteors appear to come from its direction.

“They can be seen all night long, because the radiance is very, very far in the north and is never pinpointed,” Lunsford said. “During the evening hours, it (the ray) will be just a hair above the northern horizon, which means most meteors will be obscured by the horizon, so your best bet is to watch during the last two hours before dawn.”

Lunsford said the farther north you are, the better this event will be visible. (For those in the Southern Hemisphere, the shower won’t be visible, because the radiation won’t rise above the horizon.)

While this shower is the last of the year, sky watchers won’t be waiting long until the culmination of the Quantantide meteor show, which will be released in the new year a little late on the night of January 3, 2023.

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