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2016 Ursid Meteor Shower

In 2016, the Ursids meteor shower is expected to peak on the night of December 21 and early morning hours of December 22. A waning Moon will make it easy for Northern Hemisphere residents to view the shower.

Illustration image

Ursids is a December meteor shower.

The best time to see the Ursids is right after midnight and before dawn

©iStockphoto.com/Maks08

The best time to view the Ursids in 2016 is after midnight on December 22.

Named After Ursa Minor

The Ursids meteor shower is active annually between December 17 and December 23. The shower usually peaks around December 21 or 22. At its peak, observers may be able to view as many as 10 meteors in an hour.

The shower is named the Ursids because the meteors seem to radiate from the direction of the constellation Ursa Minor in the sky.

The Ursids are associated with the comet, 8P/Tuttle, also sometimes known as Mechain-Tuttle's Comet.

Where to View the Ursids

The Ursids can only be seen from Earth's Northern Hemisphere in late December.

When to View the Ursids

The best time to view the Ursids between midnight (0:00) and before dawn.

Location in the Sky

The Ursids meteor shower is not visible at this time of year. The best date is around Dec 23, 2016; the table below is for that date:
Ursids meteor shower for Washington DC (Night between Dec 23 and Dec 24)
TimeAzimuth/DirectionAltitude
Fri 6:00 pm352°North28.9°
Fri 7:00 pm355°North27.6°
Fri 8:00 pm359°North27.0°
Fri 9:00 pmNorth27.1°
Fri 10:00 pmNorth27.8°
Fri 11:00 pmNorth29.3°
Sat 12:00 midnight11°North-northeast31.3°
Sat 1:00 am14°North-northeast33.9°
Sat 2:00 am15°North-northeast36.7°
Sat 3:00 am15°North-northeast39.8°
Sat 4:00 am15°North-northeast42.9°
Sat 5:00 am13°North-northeast45.8°
Sat 6:00 am10°North48.2°
Note: times are for Dec 23, 2016.
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How to View the Ursids

There isn’t a lot of skill involved in watching a meteor shower. Here are some tips on how to maximize your time looking for the Ursids:

  • Get out of the city to a place where city and artificial lights do not impede your viewing
  • If you are out viewing the shower during its peak, you will not need any special equipment. You should be able to see the shower with your naked eyes.
  • Carry a blanket or a comfortable chair with you - viewing meteors, just like any other kind of star gazing is a waiting game, and you need to be comfortable. Plus, you may not want to leave until you can’t see the majestic celestial fireworks anymore.
  • Check the weather and moonrise and moonset timings for your location before you leave, and plan your viewing around it.

Topics: Astronomy, Meteors, Northern Hemisphere, Comets, December

In This Article

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Meteor Showers Library

  1. October 2016: Orionids
  2. November 2016: Leonids
  3. December 2016: Geminids
  4. December 2016: Ursids
  5. January 2017: Quadrantids
  6. April 2017: Lyrids
  7. May 2017: Eta Aquarids
  8. August 2017: Perseids
  9. October 2017: Draconids

What is a Meteor Shower?

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