Eliot Herman in Tucson caught this fireball, or exceptionally bright meteor – likely part of the ongoing Ursid shower – on December 18, 2016. Why do we think it’s an Ursid? The radiant point of this shower is in the constellation Ursa Minor, the Lesser Bear, whose brightest star is Polaris, the North Star. And this meteor came from that part of the sky. Eliot said he caught this meteor “well before moonrise” and wrote:
Caught it emerging just above Polaris at 9:17 p.m. Saturday night. This is far and away the best Ursid I have captured. Mostly, the meteors are little and not especially bright.
He said his strategy for capturing more Ursid meteors over the coming nights involves:
… a simple fixed camera on an interval timer, just aimed at Polaris.
Bottom line: Photo of bright Ursid meteor. The shower always happens around the December solstice. Peak morning in 2016 likely to be Thursday, December 22.
Deborah Byrd created the EarthSky radio series in 1991 and founded EarthSky.org in 1994. Today, she serves as Editor-in-Chief of this website. She has won a galaxy of awards from the broadcasting and science communities, including having an asteroid named 3505 Byrd in her honor. A science communicator and educator since 1976, Byrd believes in science as a force for good in the world and a vital tool for the 21st century. "Being an EarthSky editor is like hosting a big global party for cool nature-lovers," she says.