Ursids meteor

  • albertw
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20 years 6 months ago #1602 by albertw
Ursids meteor was created by albertw

This from the BAA.

Active December 17-25
Radiant RA 14h 28m Dec +78o

Occurring just before Christmas, this shower (produced by debris from Comet 8P/Tuttle) is always somewhat neglected. In a lot of ways, this is a pity - activity at a 'normal' return can be the equal of the much better-covered Lyrids of April, and the shower is prone to occasional outbursts of enhanced activity. The 2003 return, with peak on Mon-Tues Dec 22-23, is well-placed with regard to moonlight; New Moon is on Dec 23, offering dark skies.

The Ursid radiant, near the 'Guardians of the Pole' in Ursa Minor, is circumpolar from the British Isles. Its minimum elevation is reached as it makes lower culmination due north in mid-evening. By the early morning hours, the radiant is climbing in the northeast.

Typical observed rates may be only of the order of 6-7 meteors/hr. Ursids are fairly swift, but the shower is not especially noted for producing bright events. The most recent outburst well seen from the UK was in 1982, when observed rates reached 20 meteors/hr. A yet stronger return was seen by observers in mainland Europe in 1986, but a 1994 outburst reported in IMO literature was not confirmed by contemporaneous observations by BAAMS members. Quite how common interludes of enhanced Ursid rate may be is uncertain: more observations are needed!

With long hours of darkness and the radiant above the horizon night-long, perhaps an hour or two of watch time on this neglected shower provides a productive alternative to the annual Festive televisual nadir?

Albert White MSc FRAS
Chairperson, International Dark Sky Association - Irish Section

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