Ursid meteor shower: Can I still see shooting star display?

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The nights of December 21 and 22 saw the Ursid meteor shower reach its peak, with about 10 shooting stars per hour seen in the dead of night. The Ursid meteor shower is caused when Earth moves into the debris left by the comet 8P/Tuttle. As specks of ice and dust left in the wake of the comet hit Earth’s atmosphere at 70 kilometres per second, they cause the appearance of shooting stars.

Can I still see the Ursid meteor shower?

With the peak of the shower having already past, shooting stars from the Ursid meteor shower will be more sparse than the 10 an hour stargazers have been treated to in the last two nights.

However, they are still visible with our planet still moving through the debris field.

Earth began moving through the debris on December 17, and scientists expect it to continue to Christmas Day.

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But the rate will be far fewer, going from 10 shooting stars per hour to between an average of none and four.

The shooting stars will emanate from the Ursa Minor constellation – hence the name Ursid – which is also known as the Little Dipper or Little Bear.

To find the Little Dipper, look almost virtually towards exact magnetic north.

While the Big Dipper, which is easier to find, resembles a star formation which looks similar to an upright kite shape, including a long tail.

The Little Dipper is to the east of the Big Dipper and looks like an upside-down kite.

What makes the Little Dipper easier to find is that the tip of the ‘tail’ is Polaris, also known as the North Star – one of the brightest stars in the night which is almost straight northwards.

Make sure to find an area with clear skies – which can be a task itself in December – and away from light pollution.

The Royal Observatory Greenwich said: “For the best conditions, you want to find a safe location away from street lights and other sources of light pollution.

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“The meteors can be seen in all parts of the sky, so it’s good to be in a wide open space where you can scan the night sky with your eyes.”

However, clouds may obscure the view according to forecasts from the Met Office.

The forecaster said: “Rain will clear southeastwards, leaving many areas with clear spells but a few wintry showers affecting northern Scotland and some western and eastern coastal areas. Windy, cold, frost in places.”

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