The Ursids, or Ursid meteor shower, are an annual meteor shower that coincides with the winter solstice.
The Ursids occur from December 17 to 25 and peak just before Christmas, around December 22, with a zenithal hourly rate of 10 meteors per hour. The meteor shower was named for its radiant point, or apparent point of origin, which lies in the direction of the bright star Kochab in Ursa Minor.
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Here are some of the highlights of the December sky:Read More »Highlights of the Night Sky in December
Polaris, also known as the North Star, Alpha Ursae Minoris or Star of Arcady, is the brightest star in Ursa Minor constellation.
Polaris is notable for currently being the closest bright star to the North Celestial Pole. The pole marks true north, which makes the North Star important in navigation, as the star’s elevation above the horizon closely matches the observer’s latitude.
The North Star has a reputation for being bright, but it is not among the top 10 or even the top 40 brightest stars in the night sky. It is only the 48th brightest star, and owes its reputation to the fact that it is the nearest relatively bright (second magnitude) star to the North Celestial Pole.
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The asterism is often confused for the whole constellation, much like the Big Dipper is sometimes confused for Ursa Major, the Great Bear, but it is only the brightest part of the constellation.
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The Big Dipper is one of the most easily recognizable asterisms in the night sky, found in the constellation Ursa Major, the Great Bear. The star pattern, formed by the seven brightest stars of Ursa Major, is well-known in many cultures and goes by many other names, among them the Plough, the Great Wagon, Saptarishi, and the Saucepan. The Big Dipper is particularly prominent in the northern sky in the summer, and is one of the first star patterns we learn to identify.
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