How to watch the last meteor shower of the year | CNN

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The last meteor shower of 2023 is set to send meteors streaking across the sky just in time for the holidays.

The Ursids will peak Thursday night into early Friday morning, according to the American Meteor Society. Night owls braving the cold can see about five to 10 meteors per hour, the society said.

This year, the Ursids will peak on the same night as the winter solstice, the longest night of the year for the Northern Hemisphere. On the night of the solstice, the sun will be at its southernmost position at 10:27 pm ET, according to EarthSky.

Weather conditions permitting, the best time to see the meteors is between 3 a.m. and dawn local time on Friday, after the moon has set, according to Robert Lunsford, fireball report coordinator for the society. The moon will be 74% full the night of the peak, according to the American Meteor Society, and will interfere with meteor viewing earlier in the evening with its bright light, Lunsford said.

The meteor shower will be visible to sky-gazers in the Northern Hemisphere, and the further north the viewing is better, Lunsford said, because the bright constellation is higher in the early evening sky for those in Alaska or Northern Canada.

Unlike the Geminids, which deliver a high rate of meteor sightings several days before and after the peak, the Ursids have a relatively short period of peak activity. The rate of five to 10 meteors per hour can only be seen at night and during the early morning peak, Lunsford said. A few days before and after the peak, the Ursids produce about one meteor per hour, he said. The Ursid rain starts in mid-December and will be active until December 24.

This rain produced showers of 25 to 30 an hour at times. We did not expect that. But you never know, Lunsford said. If you missed the Geminids, here’s a reprieve to see some meteoric activity for yourself before the end of the year, he added.

No special equipment is needed to see a meteor shower. NASA does not recommend using a telescope or binoculars because of their small field of view, since meteors can be seen all over the sky.

The Ursid is a rare annual meteor shower that shines in it, the point from which the meteors seem to originate, not a zodiac constellation. Instead, the Ursids seem to originate from the constellation Ursa Minor, also known as the Little Dipper.

By logging the time, size and other characteristics of meteor sightings, researchers can gather more information on the region of space within Earth’s orbital path, such as how dense the clouds are. debris, as well as the time during which the planet travels through them, Lunsford said. .

If we get enough people to do that (log the time of meteor sightings), it maps the cosmic dust that’s out there and helps us explain what produces it (showers of meteor), where they are and what to expect next year, said Lunsford.

Because the Ursids aren’t commonly observed as powerful meteor showers as the Geminids, the data on the Ursids could be considered more valuable to researchers, Lunsford said. Even casual sky-gazers can contribute to the data collection by reporting their meteor sightings to the American Meteor Society through its website.

The Ursids will be the last annual celestial event for this year, but the first meteor shower of 2024 will not be too far from the Quadrantids that will rise on the morning of January 4.

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