Ursid Meteor Shower 2018
In 2018, the Ursid meteor shower peaks between 21-22 December, with 5-10 meteors an hour. A full Moon makes viewing tricky.
Ursid Meteor Shower
Hot off the tail of the stunning Geminid meteor shower last week comes the Ursids, peaking 21-22 December between midnight and dawn.
The Ursid meteor shower is a more low-key affair. This minor meteor shower produces about 5-10 meteors per hour, but this year a full Moon will outshine all but the brightest meteors. This is definitely a meteor shower for the patient stargazer!
The Ursids are produced by dust grains left behind by comet 8P/Tuttle, which was first discovered in 1790. Comets constantly shed dust and stones as they fly around the Sun, and it is this debris along Tuttle’s path that causes the Ursids. As the debris hits Earth’s atmosphere at high speed, it heats up and disintegrates in flashes of light that we call meteors.
How to watch the Ursids
The Ursids are named after the constellation Ursa Minor as this is the direction from which they appear to originate. While the meteors originate from this point they can be best seen 30 degrees away from Ursa Minor, stretching across large sections of the sky.
To view the Ursids from the UK, head out between midnight and dawn on 21-22 December.
However, in 2018 a full Moon will hide all but the brightest meteors. However if you have a clear dark sky and you’ve got some patience, you may be able to catch a few.
You do not need to look in any particular direction. Lean back, let your eyes adjust to the dark, and watch the whole sky (it helps to have friends look in different directions).
The darker the location the better, so find the darkest sky you can away from city lights.
As always in the UK, clouds can be an issue, but be patient.
You can look for the Ursids on other nights as well. The shower runs annually between 17-25 December.