The Ursids meteor shower is nearly here — the noted meteor shower will be reaching its peak only a week from now, on the night of December 21, 2013. While the exact peak will be on the night of December 21, 2013, any night between the 17th and 25th offers the possibility of seeing some of the Ursids. The night of the 21st (early morning of the 22nd) definitely offers the best show though.
The peak rate this year is expected to be somewhere right around 10 meteors an hour. The Moon will be in a relatively bright phase though, so the number visible may be lower than that — depending on the location of the Moon at the time.
The Ursids will, of course, appear to be radiating out of the constellation of Ursa Minor (little bear) — located in the north/northeast portion of the night’s sky. Something to note — the Ursids are primarily a Northern Hemisphere mentor shower, being not very visible that far south of the equator.
Ideally you want to look at any portion of the sky that is around 90° away from the radiant — that is where meteors will generally reach their peak brightness.
To keep tabs on all celestial events, simply download this annual calendar of celestial events! (It’s a free PDF).
Here are some general tips for meteor watching:
• You want to find the darkest sky that you can, preferably far away from city lights — dark, rural locations are the ideal.
• Get as comfortable as you can— reclining chairs, warm clothes, blankets, pillows, etc, all go a long way towards improving the experience.
• A cup of warm coffee or hot chocolate tends to make the experience more enjoyable as well.