2023’s Last Meteor Shower Gives Illinois A Show Thursday
Last week, we told you about the Geminid Meteor Showers, which had their peak last Wednesday and Thursday night. With perfect weather conditions like no moon and no cloud cover whatsoever, the Geminids, often called the most satisfying meteor showers of the year, really delivered.
If you got outside after midnight and looked up last Wednesday and/or Thursday, you were treated to upwards of 100 meteors flying over every hour during the overnight, and many of them were brightly colored.
Now, we get one more. Of the nearly 30 different meteor showers we have a chance to see each year, the very last one of 2023, the Ursid Meteor Showers, are hitting their peak this Thursday night through Friday.
The Ursids Started On Sunday, December 17th, And Are Viewable Through Christmas Eve On The 24th, But The Peak, Or Best Viewing Time, Is This Thursday And Friday
According to the American Meteor Society (AmsMeteors.org), people sometimes forget about the Ursids because they come so late in the year:
The Ursids are often neglected due to the fact it peaks just before Christmas and the rates are much less than the Geminds, which peaks just a week before the Ursids. Observers will normally see 5-10 Ursids per hour during the late morning hours on the date of maximum activity. There have been occasional outbursts when rates have exceeded 25 per hour.
Forget that last week's Geminid Meteor Showers were sending up to 100 meteors across the sky every hour, because whether it's 10-15, or more than 25 meteors going over per hour, it's still really cool and a lot more than you'll normally see on a average weekday night.
This Year's Peak Of The Ursid Meteor Showers Just Happen To Coincide With The Winter Solstice (1st Official Day Of Winter) On Thursday, But There's No Relation Between The Two Events
If you'd like to bundle up a bit to go outside and check out the Ursids on Thursday or Friday, here's the good news: unlike the Geminids, which presented the best viewing opportunities after midnight, you could start to see the Ursids shortly after sunset, and the show goes on until dawn.
The radiant point of the Ursids—where the “shooting stars” will appear to emanate in the night sky—is the constellation Ursa Minor. These stars wrap around Polaris, the North Star, so you must look north. There’s more good news because since Ursa Minor is a circumpolar constellation—i.e., it’s “up” all night—you can start watching for “shooting stars” as soon as it gets dark (not so in the southern hemisphere, where the Ursids will not be visible).
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Gallery Credit: Martha Sandoval