How the Moon Offers Great Help for Those Who Want to Admire the Ursids Meteor Shower

How the Moon Offers Great Help for Those Who Want to Admire the Ursids Meteor Shower

The Ursids meteor shower is an annual meteor shower that occurs every December. It is named after the constellation Ursa Minor, which is the small bear in the northern sky. The meteor shower is caused by the Earth passing through the debris left behind by Comet 8P/Tuttle, which orbits the sun once every 13.7 years. The comet was discovered in 1858 by Horace Parnell Tuttle, an American astronomer, and it was named after him. When it is close to the sun, Comet 8P/Tuttle becomes active and releases a large amount of gas and dust, which forms a bright coma around the nucleus of the comet.

The Ursids meteor shower is not one of the most well-known meteor showers, as it is typically not as active as some of the other annual meteor showers, such as the Perseids or the Geminids. However, it can still be a spectacular sight for those who are able to catch it. The best time to view the Ursids meteor shower is usually between the evening of December 21st and the early morning hours of December 22nd, when the constellation Ursa Minor is highest in the sky.

To get the best view of the Ursids meteor shower, it is important to find a dark location away from city lights. The meteor shower is best viewed with the naked eye, so there is no need for telescopes or binoculars.

The Moon’s contribution

On the night of December 21st, a new Moon will appear at only 3% fullness. This creates a great opportunity for stargazers from the Northern Hemisphere to have a better view of the Ursids, as CNN reveals.

However, even if you somehow miss the celestial show from tonight, you still have time until Christmas Eve to spot some of those sparkling meteors zooming across the skies and above your head. 

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Bill Cooke, who’s the Meteoroid Environment Office lead of NASA, explained as CNN also quotes:

Meteor observers have historically not spent much time with this one since it falls so close to Christmas,

Grad students in meteor science used to call them the “Cursed Ursids” because no one wanted to get stuck observing them.

The Ursids meteor shower is not the only celestial event occurring in December. The winter solstice, the shortest day of the year, occurs on December 21st or 22nd, depending on the time zone. The solstice marks the beginning of winter in the Northern Hemisphere and the start of summer in the Southern Hemisphere. In addition, the planet Venus is visible in the western sky after sunset throughout the month of December, making it an ideal time for stargazing.

Meteor showers: astronomers still need to learn more

There are still some aspects of meteor showers that scientists do not fully understand, however. For example, the exact composition of the debris that makes up meteor showers is not always known, and researchers are still working to understand the chemical and physical properties of this material. Additionally, the mechanisms by which comets and asteroids shed their debris as they orbit the sun are not fully understood, and scientists are still working on learning more about this process.

Meteor showers are a natural phenomenon that occurs when the Earth passes through the debris left behind by a comet or an asteroid. As these small particles enter the Earth’s atmosphere, they vaporize due to the friction caused by the high speeds at which they travel. The bright streaks of light that we see in the sky are caused by these vaporizing particles and are commonly known as “shooting stars.”

There are several major meteor showers that occur throughout the year, each with its own peak viewing time. The most well-known meteor shower is the Perseids, which occur in August and is known for producing a high number of bright meteors.


Even since he was a child, Cristian was staring curiously at the stars, wondering about the Universe and our place in it. Today he's seeing his dream come true by writing about the latest news in astronomy. Cristian is also glad to be covering health and other science topics, having significant experience in writing about such fields.

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