The Ursids bring the last meteor shower of 2022



CNN

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 about five to 10 visible meteors per hour, according to EarthSky. While the rates are not as high as other annuals, this year’s rainfall will peak in the night of December 21 with a new moon with only 3% fullnesswhich offers especially good visibility for people in the northern hemisphere, where it will be visible.

Occasionally, the Ursids have been known to exceed 25 meteors per hour, and even 100 meteors per hour in the years 1945 and 1986. But NASA is not expecting anything out of the ordinary this year, according to Bill Cooke, director of the Office of NASA Meteoroid Environment. .

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14 December 2020, Bavaria, Münsing: A shooting star can be seen during the Geminid meteor stream in the starry sky above a tree.  The Geminids are the strongest meteor stream of the year.  Photo by: Matthias Balk/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images

Expert reveals the best way to see a meteor shower

The Ursids shower began on December 13 and will be active until December 24. Still, Cooke suggests viewing the meteor shower close to the night of its peak, if not that night, then the night before or after.

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

The Ursids are often overlooked due to their proximity to the Geminid shower, which peaked on December 13 and can also be observed through December 24.

“Historically, meteor watchers haven’t spent a lot of time with this one since it falls so close to Christmas,” Cooke said. “Meteor science graduate students used to call them the ‘cursed ursids’ because no one wanted to stare at 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 spot an Ursid meteorite, Robert Lunsford, fireball reporting coordinator for the American Meteor Society, recommends viewing during the early morning hours of December 22.

“(The Ursids) can be very erratic. I’ve seen them in perfect condition and I haven’t seen any, and on other occasions I’ve seen them go off at 25 an hour,” Lunsford said. “You don’t know what you’re going to find, but the conditions are almost perfect this year. If you go out into a dark sky, you’ll probably see five to 10 Ursids an 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, meteors appear to radiate from the constellation Ursid Minor, better known as the Little Dipper. To differentiate these meteors from the Geminids, viewers must locate the constellation and identify which meteors appear to be coming from their direction.

“They’re visible all night, because the radiant is so far to the north and it never sets,” Lunsford said. “During the evening hours, (the radiant) will only be a hair above the northern horizon, which means most meteors will be horizon-blocked, so your best bet is to observe during the last two hours before of dawn. ”

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

While this shower is the last of the year, skygazers won’t have long to wait for the peak of the Quantrantids meteor display, which will ring in the new year with a bit of delay in the night of January 3, 2023.

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