Ring in Winter with a Meteor Shower
Despite the colder than average weather we've been experiencing lately, winter has officially arrived yet. But all of that changes this weekend and there's a little something extra this year to welcome the new season.
The Ursids meteor shower actually begins streaking across the sky tonight (December 17), but it is most visible in the Northern Hemisphere Saturday, which is the true beginning of winter.
Winter solstice hits at 10:19 PM when the Earth's axis is tilted away from the sun, making for the shortest duration of sunlight we'll have all year.
As for the meteor, according to Space.com, it's active between December 17 and December 26, but its peak is after dark on December 21 and into the early hours of December 22, producing a handful of meteors or shooting stars every hour, usually in the range of five to 10 per hour.
To best view the light show we'll need the weather to cooperate with clear skies. The current forecast for Sioux Falls calls for a few clouds from time to time Saturday night.
Experts recommend you find an area with a maximum amount of darkness for the viewing and that you give your eyes 30-45 minutes to adjust before the shower passes over.
They also recommend foregoing binoculars and telescopes because they limit your range of vision.
So where should you be looking in the sky?
The meteor shower should appear near the bowl of the Little Dipper (also known as Ursa Minor). To help guide you, I suggest downloading an app like SkyView (IOS, Android, Google Play) for your mobile device. It will literally point you in the right direction.