Ursid Meteor Shower Is About To Peak, How To Watch 2023’s Last Celestial Light Show

hero man watching meteor shower
The Ursid meteor shower will be the last chance to catch a falling star to wish upon for the wanted gift to be left under the tree on Christmas morning. That's because the celestial light show is the final meteor shower of 2023, and it's predicted to peak during the early morning hours of December 23, 2023.

The Ursids are a product of comet 8P/Tuttle, discovered by Pierre Mechain on January 9, 1790. The comet gets as close to the Sun as Earth, then travels an orbital path that takes it out as far as the orbit of Saturn. Because its path is tilted to the Earth’s orbit, debris trailing the comet makes its way into Earth’s atmosphere. Comet 8P/Tuttle last made its flyby in August 2021.

According to EarthSky, the Ursids are a low-key meteor shower that produces anywhere from 5 to 10 meteors per hour. There have been rare instances when bursts of 100 meteors per hour have been observed. Those wanting to wish upon a falling star will want to first locate the Little Dipper in the frosty night sky, as the meteor shower will appear to radiate from the bowl.

image ursids little dipper

For both viewing and photographing the Ursid meteor shower, onlookers will want to get as far away from the pollution of city lights as possible and find a place with dark skies. Those wanting to capture a shooting star with a camera, it is highly suggested to use a tripod, or have a way of propping the camera up. This is because it is near impossible to hold a camera still enough to capture a clear shot. Shutter bugs will also want to use a wide-angle lens in order to capture as much of the night sky as possible.

Other suggestions for taking the best pics of any meteor shower include using a shutter release cable or built-in timer, manually focusing the camera, and taking practice shots to get the correct exposure time.

Those in the Northern Hemisphere will have the best opportunity of viewing the Ursids. Anyone in the Southern Hemisphere might see a few Ursids streaking across the night sky from the northern horizon, but the chance is slim.

So, head out early tomorrow morning and take advantage of the last chance to catch a falling star in 2023 during the Ursid meteor shower. Who knows, maybe your last wish upon a star in 2023 will come true.