Ursid meteors are flying

The moon is up during the best hours for watching (after midnight). Still, people are catching Ursid meteors. This one was a bright one! The Ursid shower peaks this week.

Fireball! Eliot Herman in Tucson caught this Ursid fireball this weekend, from the Tucson, Arizona foothills.

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.

More details on the photo at Eliot’s Flickr page.

More details on the Ursid meteor shower here.

The radiant point of the Ursid shower is near the famous Little Dipper asterism, in the northern sky. Polaris is the last star – and brightest star – in the tail of the Little Dipper.

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