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Updated December 24th, 2023 at 15:10 IST

Ursid meteor shower to peak before Christmas. Here's all about the cosmic event

The Ursid meteor shower is active between December 17 and December 26 each year and they emerge from the constellation Ursa Minor.

Digital Desk
meteor shower
The Ursids meteor shower result from the trail left behind by Comet 8P/Tuttle. | Image:NASA
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The world is embracing for an year-ender meteor shower ahead of Christmas eve. The Ursid meteor shower will peak in the night of December 23 and early December 24, giving stargazers an opportunity to catch streaks of light for the final time this year.

The Ursid meteor shower is active between December 17 and December 26 each year and they emerge from the constellation Ursa Minor which is always above the North Pole.

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The Ursid meteors result from Comet 8P/Tuttle which completes one orbit around the sun every 13 years. When the Earth, while orbiting the Sun, passes through the debris left behind by 8P/Tuttle, its remnants burn up in our planet's atmosphere creating bright streaks of light.

According to astronomers, comet Tuttle is classified as a midsize comet and still has a width of around 4.5 kilometers left. Comets differ from asteroids in the sense that they have different composition and the ice around them create a long and colourful tail as the Sun heats them up in their orbit.

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Notably, the rate of Ursid meteors that one could spot is relatively lower - just 10 meteors per hour. What's more, the brightness of a waxing gibbous Moon is likely to reduce this number.

Interestingly, the comet Tuttle made its closest approach to Earth in January 2008 and according to estimates, it will get close again around December 2048. 
 

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Published December 23rd, 2023 at 21:09 IST

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