When skywatchers think of meteor showers during the month of December, they immediately think of the Geminids, which over the years have evolved into the most prolific and reliable of the dozen or so annual meteor displays that take place.
And yet, there is also another notable meteor shower that occurs during December, which, in contrast, hardly gets much notice at all: the December Ursids.
This year, the peak of this meteor display is due during the morning hours of Saturday, Dec. 22.
The Ursids are so named because they appear to fan out from the vicinity of the bright orange star Kochab, in the constellation of Ursa Minor, the Little Bear. Kochab is the brighter of the two outer stars in the bowl of the Little Dipper (the other being Pherkad), that seem to march in a circle like sentries around Polaris, the North Star.
These meteors are sometimes called the Umids, in a rather unsuccessful attempt to make clear that their radiant is in Ursa Minor, not Ursa Major.
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