Ursid meteor shower 2019: When and where to see it in the UK

What is it, when is it and where can I see the Ursid meteor shower this year?

The Ursid meteor shower will peak 21-22 December

What is the Ursid meteor shower?

The Ursid meteor shower is usually sparse, producing around five meteors per hour at its peak. However, there will be a waning crescent moon during the shower’s peak this year, so at least the Moon’s light won’t obscure your view of the night sky.

Ursids meteors appear to radiate from near the Beta Ursae Minoris (Kochab) in the constellation Ursa Minor. However, the actual source of the shooting stars is a stream of debris left behind by comet 8P/Tuttle.

Meteors are  debris enters our planet’s atmosphere at speeds of up to 70 kilometres per second, vaporising and causing the streaks of light we call meteors.

Find out the difference between an asteroid, a comet, a meteor, and a meteorite.



When is the Ursid meteor shower?

SHOWER NAME

DATE OF MAXIMUM

NORMAL LIMITS

PEAK RATE/HOUR

DESCRIPTION

Ursids

Dec 21-22

Dec 17-25

5

Sparse shower. Associated with comet 8P/Tuttle

Find out more about other meteors and meteorites around the year

How can I watch the Ursid meteor shower?

This year, the peak of the Ursids coincides with a waning crescent Moon, meaning that despite the shower’s sparse nature you may just be able to see a few shooting stars. The shower also occurs around the time of the winter solstice, so you will have maximum hours of darkness for stargazing!

Hunting for meteors, like the rest of astronomy, is a waiting game, so it's best to bring a comfy chair to sit on and to wrap up warm as you could be outside for a while. They can be seen with the naked eye so there's no need for binoculars or a telescope, though you will need to allow your eyes to adjust to the dark. 

Where is best to watch the Ursid meteor shower?

For the best conditions, you want to find a safe location away from street lights and other sources of light pollution. The meteors can be seen in all parts of the sky, so it’s good to be in a wide open space where you can scan the night sky with your eyes. But if you trace the paths that the meteors take, they seem to originate from the Ursa Minor constellation.

If you manage to get any pictures of the Ursid meteor shower then we'd love to see them. You can find us on Facebook or Twitter

Image of Ursa Minor constellation