Skywatch: Look for meteors and a classic wintertime constellation

Skywatch: Look for meteors and a classic wintertime constellation

When skies clear out this week you might get lucky and catch a meteor streaking across the sky.

While the Ursid meteor shower typically peaks around the winter solstice we had a very bright moon at that time. But the moon is waning through the week and the shower is active until about the 26th.

The Ursid meteor shower is caused by leftover debris from Comet 8P/Tuttle you’ll typically see 5-10 meteors an hour during the shower’s peak which was likely sometime Sunday. Bottom line, do not go out of your way to see this one but if you are out and about in the middle of the week, far away from the city lights, look up in the north-northeastern sky around midnight and you might get lucky.

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One thing you may have noticed in recent weeks is a famous constellation that’s synonymous with this time of year. It is Orion which is best known for the three stars that make up the belt of the famous pattern. Named after Orion, the greatest hunter of mythology, he was eventually killed by lowly scorpion because of his hubris got the best of him – he thought he could kill any animal on the planet. He was wrong but the gods placed him in the sky and we get to enjoy the constellation every winter.

The moon will approach the “Royal Star” or Regulus on Christmas night. Regulus is the brightest star in the constellation of Leo, the lion. Look in the eastern sky after 11 p.m. to find the pair.

Speaking of the moon, it will reach Last Quarter at the end of the week on Saturday morning at 4:34 a.m. Look for the half moon Saturday and Sunday night. Happy hunting!