Everything you need to know about the Ursid meteor shower, including when it peaks and how to watch it

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Your last chance to make a wish on a shooting star in 2022 is approaching!

Pay attention skywatchers, because the Ursids are upon us, marking not only the last meteor shower of the month, but the last celestial spectacle of the year.

NASA considers the annual Ursid meteor shower “inconspicuous” due to the minimal rate of star firing compared to the Geminids that preceded them. (The latter is what the space agency considers the “best and most reliable” meteor shower.)

But there will still be plenty to see! According to NASA, all meteor showers occur when Earth passes through the debris trail left behind by a comet or asteroid – and for the Ursids in particular, that would be Comet 8P/Tuttle.

RELATED: Everything to Know About the Geminid Meteor Shower, Including When It Peaks and How to Watch

What you see in the sky is debris from an asteroid entering Earth’s atmosphere at extreme speed. Its velocity combined with the shock of the air results in disintegration, with some of the larger particles turning into balls of fire!

Just when you thought the solar system could no longer be active, think again! Galaxy watchers are in for a treat as the Ursid meteor showers align with the winter solstice, marking the shortest day and longest night of the year.

From when they peak to how to watch them, here’s everything you need to know about the Ursids meteor shower.

When does the Ursid meteor shower peak?

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The Ursids meteor shower peaks on the night of December 22 to the morning of December 23 this year. Luckily, those late hours into the wee hours of the morning aren’t the only time slots where you can try to find them in the sky.

The Ursids began on December 17 and will remain active until December 26, giving stargazers multiple opportunities to spot a shooting star – and make a wish, of course!

RELATED: Everything You Need to Know About December’s Cold Moon, Last Full Moon of the Year

How to see the Ursid meteor shower?

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Like all meteor showers, the Ursids are best observed in a dark sky and away from any light pollution. Since they align with the winter solstice, you’ll want to bundle up before you sit back, relax, and enjoy the starry spectacle.

At its peak, the Ursids can produce over 22 meteors per hour – although on average around 10 can be spotted. Typically, the moon plays a crucial role in astronomers’ ability to see showers. If the moon is near its full phase, the stars will appear faint in the night sky. Fortunately, the Ursids coincide with a dark new moon on December 23, which allows for optimal viewing conditions for spotting a meteor.

Where does the Ursid meteor shower appear in the sky?

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While comets are the true point of origin for meteor showers, many tend to think that they originate from their “radiant”, or the point in the sky from which the stars seem to shoot. For the Ursids, its radiant is the constellation Ursa Minor, better known as “The Little Bear”.

It makes sense to start by looking at Ursa Minor, but that’s not the only place you should be looking. Just lay on the ground, adjust your eyes to the dark sky, and just take advantage of its vastness to improve your chances of spotting a star.

RELATED: Astronaut Nicole Aunapu Mann Says The View Of Earth From The Space Station Is “Absolutely Overwhelming”

Which meteor shower comes after the Ursids?

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The next meteor shower after the Ursids is the Quadrantid meteor shower, peaking late at night January 2 to early morning January 3 this year. They can produce up to 80 meteors per hour, according to NASA.

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