Music and NPR News for Central and Northern Michigan
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

People in mid-Michigan have the chance to witness the Ursid meteor shower Tuesday night

Bill Ingalls / NASA
In this 30 second exposure, a meteor streaks across the sky during the annual Perseid meteor shower, Wednesday, Aug. 11, 2021, in Spruce Knob, West Virginia.

Star gazers are getting a special treat on the longest night of the year with an opportunity to witness the last meteor shower of 2021.

The winter solstice is bringing us extra sparkle Tuesday night with the celestial peak of the Ursid meteor shower. The annual event runs from about December 17 to 26 every year, peaking around the winter solstice.

Wolfgang Kerzendorf, a professor of astronomy at Michigan State University, says as the Earth rotates around the sun, it’s also encountering rocks and sand left over in space from when the solar system first formed. This phenomenon creates the meteor showers we see from Earth.

“So essentially every year when we go through these rocks again, we can say they're hitting the atmosphere and we can see this meteorite spectacle," he said. Kerzendorf says at around 1 a.m. early Wednesday morning, spectators will be able to see about 10 meteors an hour.

"It's a very small window where we see like, little grains of sand and things a little bit bigger hitting the atmosphere, and like they’re getting so fast—so the friction from the air, eats them up and makes them glow at specific rates," he added.

This year, Kerzendorf says to expect a bright moon in the sky during the Ursid peak. He recommends going to an area where city lights are less visible to get the best look.

As WKAR's Bilingual Latinx Stories Reporter, Michelle reports in both English and Spanish on stories affecting Michigan's Latinx community. Michelle is also the voice of WKAR's weekend news programs.