Ursid Meteor Shower: When, Where And How To Watch It?

The last meteor shower of 2018, the Ursid meteor shower, will peak on the night of December 21-22. Though it is a weak shower, producing only 10 meteors per hour, this year an outburst of meteors is due. However, the pale moonlight can obstruct the show. Here is how to watch the last celestial event of the year.

What Is Ursids Meteor Shower?

The Ursid Meteor Shower is an annual meteor shower that peaks in the month of December. Annual meteor showers arise when the Earth passes through streams of debris left behind by comets and asteroids. As pebble-sized pieces of debris collide with the Earth, they burn up at an altitude of around 70 to 100 km, appearing as shooting stars. The parent body responsible for creating the Ursid shower is the comet 8P/Tuttle, which was discovered in 1790 and then re-discovered by Horace Tuttle in 1858. It goes around the sun every 14 years and is not a very bright comet, due to its many trips around the sun.  The shower itself was first recorded in England in 1900, and also spotted in Germany in the decades following. 

Ursids 2018

The shower will peak on the night of December 21-22. Every meteor shower has an associated radiant with it. The radiant is the point from where all the meteor strikes appear to originate. Meteor paths appear at random locations in the sky, but the apparent paths of two or more meteors from the same shower will converge at the radiant. The radiant is the vanishing point of the meteor paths. The position of the radiant matters a lot when it comes to watching the shower. 

The radiant of the Ursid shower lies near the star Beta Ursae Minoris (Kochab) in the costellation of Ursa Minor.

The position of Ursa Minor constellation at 1 a.m. over the capital of India. (Image: Dominic Ford, In-The-Sky)

For observers in the northern hemisphere, Ursa Minor will be in the northern part of the sky. Meteors will appear to be streaming out from the radiant, but they can show up all across the sky. Look a little bit away from the radiant, but not too far, to make sure that you catch sight of meteors with longer tails. That said, the Ursids are not known for leaving spectacular tails in the sky.

Tips to get the best view

In order to get the best view of the shower, find a dark place away from the city lights and make sure you give your eyes 20-30 mins to adjust to the dark. However, the full moon will be a problem and plus the Ursids are faint. There is no need for any binoculars or telescopes. It might be cold so dress appropriately and turn on some good music. The most important tip: Have Patience! Good luck

Also Watch: Astronomy Calendar 2019

Leave a Reply