Welcome winter with the longest night of the year and a wonderful light show!
While places all over the country have certainly been a little North Pole-esque for weeks now, it wasn't officially the fault of winter.
Saturday marks the winter solstice, which generally falls between Dec. 20-23 each year. It's the time that the Earth's North Pole turns away from the sun, causing winter in the Northern Hemisphere and summer in Southern Hemisphere. It brings with it the shortest day and longest night of the whole year. You will only get to see about nine hours, 53 minutes, and 21 seconds of daylight on Friday, compared to the typical 12 or so hours, says the National Weather Service.
The sun will be at its lowest elevation around noon. The year's shortest day also equates to the longest night, which is great because the skies will be putting on a show.
Courtesy of Geek.com
A meteor show and a full moon accompany this year's solstice. The annual Ursids shower will peak overnight the night of Dec. 21-22. The Ursids shower isn't quite on the level with the Geminid shower that came around a few days ago, but it's no slouch. It will light up the night sky with around five to 10 meteors per hour. Though unexpected, an "outburst" could cause the number to double that, according to Space.com.
"We're not expecting an outburst," NASA meteor expert Bill Cooke told Space.com. "But the Ursids have surprised us before."
This shower was first recorded in England in 1900. This is the last meteor shower of 2019. The show this year will be slightly more visible than it was last year. Last year, the full Cold Moon peaked right on the winter solstice, an event that we won't see again in our lifetime (the next slated intersection of the winter solstice and Cold Moon will be 2094).
This year, the Cold Moon is just winding down, which will still make the Ursids a bit hard to see. But, if you time it right, you can catch them.
"The Ursids have a sharp peak on the morning of Dec. 22, meaning that observers will see many more meteors on that day than on days before or after. Look at the sky in the morning on the 22nd, after midnight and as late as possible before sunrise. The meteor-shower radiant, which the meteors will appear to be flying away from, is near the bowl of the Little Dipper, and the radiant will climb higher in the sky in the pre-dawn hours," says Space.com.
Are you officially ready for winter? Let us know in the comments below.