Ursids 2024: December’s Final Meteor Shower
The Ursid meteor shower reaches its peak of activity on the night of December 21-22, 2024. If the sky is clear, observers can expect to see up to 10 “shooting stars” per hour. Here is all you need to know about viewing the Ursids this year.
- Ursid meteor shower 2024: When and how to see
- Where can you see the Ursid meteor shower?
- What causes the Ursid meteor shower?
- Ursid meteor shower 2024: Bottom line
Ursid meteor shower 2024: When and how to see
- Meteors/hour: 10
- Moon illumination: 55%
- Active: December 17-26
- Peak of activity: December 21-22
- Radiant location: Constellation Ursa Minor
- Parent body: Comet 8P/Tuttle
- Visible from: Northern Hemisphere
- Description: The Ursids are a moderate meteor stream, which always peaks around the December solstice. During the peak, the Ursids produce up to 10 meteors per hour; however, unexpected outbursts of activity have also been reported.
Ursid meteor shower 2024: Visibility forecast
The Last Quarter Moon that rises around midnight local time may hinder the Ursids’ observations in 2024. To see more meteors, you can either go out before the Moon rises or block out its bright light. For instance, you can position yourself near a tree that will hide the Moon from view.
The Ursid meteors can appear in any part of the sky. To see the most “shooting stars”, find a location away from light-polluted skies and just look up. If the sky on the peak night is cloudy, pick the other night around December 21-22. Want more meteor-viewing tips? Check out our infographic.
Where can you see the Ursid meteor shower?
The Ursids are visible from the Northern Hemisphere. The meteor shower’s radiant point is located near the Little Dipper asterism in Ursa Minor, not far from Polaris. This means the radiant is circumpolar for northern locations — in other words, it never sets below the horizon. Thanks to this, you can observe the Ursids all night.
The higher the radiant point is in the sky, the more meteors you are likely to see. You can easily find out the location of the Ursids’ radiant on the night of the peak using the Sky Tonight astronomy app:
- Open the app and tap the magnifier icon;
- Type “Ursids” in the search bar;
- Tap the blue target icon on the card that says “Meteor Shower Peak”;
- Open the Time machine in the upper part of the screen. Tap the hour digit and move the slider to see how the radiant’s position changes and determine when it reaches the highest point in the sky on the peak night.
What causes the Ursid meteor shower?
Most meteor showers are caused by comets. The Ursids are no exception: their parent body is a periodic comet 8P/Tuttle. We can see the Ursid meteor shower every time the Earth passes through the trail of debris left by this comet. The comet 8P/Tuttle was last seen in the inner Solar System in 2021 and will return next time in 2035.
Ursid meteor shower 2024: Bottom line
In 2024, the Ursid meteor shower will reach its peak on the night of December 21-22, producing 10 meteors per hour at maximum. The light of the half-illuminated Moon might interfere with your observations. Try to get the bright Moon out of view to see more “shooting stars”. If you want to learn about other meteor showers peaking in December, read our article.