How to observe Ursids, the last meteor shower of the year!

silhouette man in the dark with starsStill smoky hypotheses attribute the Ursid meteor shower to the comet Tuttle. 

The last meteor shower of the year, will sail our skies in the second half of December 2019. That’s how to observe Ursids.

Ursids’ main features

With a ZHR of 10, therefore not very high, we are preparing to witness the latest meteoric phenomenon of the year. We are talking about the shooting stars known as “Ursids“. Starting from the constellation Ursa Minor and in particular from its beta star, Kochab, we will be able to admire in the northern skies of December, in an hour about 10 meteors cross the sky. The light trails, under dark skies and without illuminations, will be visible through the entire sky.

So less intense than the Geminid “sisters”, the shooting stars protagonists of the first half of December, who literally enchanted us, despite the presence of the full Moon.

The vision of the Ursids will therefore be characterized by the absence of moonlight. It will allow us to observe them at the best.

ursa minor constellation
The Ursa Minor constellation.
Source: Wikipedia

The Ursids owe their name to the portion of the sky from which they seem to originate: the constellation Ursa Minor. The main feature of the end-of-year meteors is that they have a particularly narrow, compact flow. Their “action” is visible from 16-17 December until 26-27 December, with a peak in the night between 22 and 23.

Controversial origin

The wakes are supposed to have originated from the remains of the comet Tuttle. However the hypothesis is still smoky despite numerous studies carried out on the comet. This has an orbital period of 13.5 years. Periodically therefore would leave residues that the Earth passes through, giving rise to the phenomenon of falling stars.

How to observe Ursids

Under dark skies, devoid of artificial illuminations, the visible meteors will be about 10 every hour. In the past, the ZHR, therefore the number of light trails visible in an hour has undergone changes up to 50-100.

Hoping in good weather, the night of greatest visibility of the shooting stars will be between 22 and 23 December. However, even on previous and subsequent evenings we will be able to witness the phenomenon, thanks also to the absence of the full Moon. Therefore, telescopes or binoculars will not be necessary, on the contrary. Their field of vision is very limited therefore not suitable for observing meteors. We therefore recommend comfortable and warm clothing and to move away from city lights whenever possible.

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