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Christmastime brings final meteor shower of 2019

(Pexels Photo)

With sincere wishes for a happy holiday, a Merry Christmas and a great 2020, we find one more gifts from the heavens – a meteor shower to end the year!

Get set for the annual Ursid meteor shower, which will peak on the evening of Dec. 21 and into the next day.

The radiant or point in the sky in which all these meteors come from, is easy to locate, as long as you have a clear view of the northern sky.

Look due north for the North Star (Polaris). This is located some 32 degrees high in the sky. The Ursid meteors will come from this general direction, as the radiant point is in the sky all night and does not set.

The Ursids, as with most meteor showers, are debris from the tails of comets and this shower is thought to be produced by debris from Comet 8P/Tuttle.

Comet 8P/Tuttle was discovered back on Jan. 5, 1858, with an orbital period of 14 years.

Here is an image of the radiant of the Ursid meteor shower.

Here is some additional history on the source of the meteor shower.

The comet is thought to be a contact binary, meaning that it either has two lobes attached or the two nuclei are close together.

To begin your meteor search, look to the northern sky just after sunset Dec. 21 and with a clear sky and limited moonlight, you may get to see 10 meteors per hour.

All these meteors are as small as beach sand and some are pebble-sized debris, traveling upwards of 50,000 mph!

If we look into 2020 for what is in store for meteor showers, get set for one of the most amazing showers of the new year.

I am referring to the annual Quadrantid meteor shower, which will peak on the early morning of Jan. 4 at around 2 a.m. Arizona time.

To view it, you need a clear sky and a good view of the northeastern sky. The meteors come from a region of the sky just below the tail of the Big Dipper.

Here is a finder chart to help you locate the radiant.

At best, this shower can produce over 100 meteors per hour, but patience is needed for all predictions of meteor showers.

Happy New Year!

To print your own monthly star chart, click here.

To view satellites/dates/times of passage, click here.

Listen to the Dr. Sky Show on KTAR News 92.3 FM every Saturday morning at 3 a.m.

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