Ursids – a pre-Christmas meteor shower that sometimes springs surprises.

Main Activity Dates Dec 17–25
Peak Rates Dec 22–23
Peak ZHR 10 (usually)
Best Observed Rates Middle of the night of Dec 22–23
Visibility each night (UK) Visible all night
Moonlight issues at Maximum 1st Quarter, sets at 23:00

Shower details – Radiant: 14:28 +74.8° – ZHR: 10 – Velocity: medium – 32km/sec – Parent Object: 8P/Tuttle

Ursid activity can be seen from approx Dec 17–25, with peak rates likely on Dec 22–23. The radiant (see the chart below) lies close to the star beta Ursae Minoris (Kochab), is circumpolar from the UK and is highest in the sky late in the night. In consequence of being circumpolar, it is strictly a northern hemisphere event.

Enhanced Ursid rates have been seen on several occasions, including in 2014. However, no significant enhanced activity has currently been predicted. The Ursid meteor shower is linked to periodic comet 8P/Tuttle, but there has been no correlation seen between the timing of enhanced Ursid activity and perihelion returns of the parent comet.

With new Moon on Dec 14, and the first quarter Moon setting around 02:00 and well away from the radiant,  circumstances for the 2020 Ursids are good.

Ursid radiant
Ursid radiant