With humans celebrating New Year, Mother Nature too is welcoming New Year with the beautiful view of Quadrantid meteor shower to peak this weekend. Though, the meteor shower will not be clearly seen through naked eyes, here’s the trick to see the shower and will be worth the effort. The Quadrantids are the first meteor shower of the year and are not the result of debris from an ordinary comet burning up in the atmosphere. When compared with the Geminids or Perseids or even the Leonids, the show of Quadrantid meteor shower will remain relatively obscure. The Quadrantids can also be one of the hardest meteor showers of the year to spot. The interstellar debris that we see as a meteor shower comes from a mysterious and relatively newly-discovered object, 2003 EHI.
As per latest prediction by NASA, it is expected to see about 80 meteors per hour this year at a relatively leisurely speed of 25 miles per second. The meteor shower is expected to start on Sunday night, January 3rd and extends into the early morning hours of Monday morning, January 4th. NASA predicts the peak will fall just after 3 a.m. and continue right up to first light. NASA also has an excellent tool that you can use to figure out the meteor shower rate for your precise location. Our list of constellations today comes from the International Astronomical Union, which recognizes 88 official constellations. Quadrans Muralis was a super-constellation composed of a combination of stars that are now part of three constellations: The Big Dipper, Bootes, and Dracos. The Quadrantid meteor shower was spotted for the first time by astronomers in 1825.
An advice to the skygazers is to be more precise with the timing of the Quadrantids shower, which will peak only about two hours averaging 120 meteors per hour. In order to clearly see the meteor shower, skywatchers have been advised to find a place without light pollution, give your eyes about 15 minutes to adjust to the darkness and look up. Don’t get upset if you are unable to see the shower as Slooh community observatory will live stream views of the meteors from telescopes in five countries.
"The Quadrantid meteor shower is capable of matching the meteor rates of the better known August Perseid and December Geminid showers. It has been known to produce up to 50-100 or more meteors per hour in a dark sky," EarthSky said.
Long breaks in clouds will allow for fair viewing conditions for Colorado and Minnesota, AccuWeather Meteorologist Steve Travis said. Travis added that lake-effect clouds will likely inhibit views for stargazers across the Great Lakes region.
With a peak of just a few hours, it will also be the briefest meteor shower of the year (most meteor showers peak over a couple of days). But it's perhaps the most dazzling. "During its peak, 60 to as many as 200 Quadrantid meteors can be seen per hour under perfect conditions," NASA reports. These fireballs will be larger and brighter than the average meteor shower.
The Quadrantids take their name from the constellation "Quadrans Muralis."
Quadrans Muralis depicts a mural quadrant, an astronomical device used to plot stars. (A kind of boring object for a constellation, if you ask me.) Perhaps that's why astronomers no longer recognize Quadrans Muralis as an official constellation.
The shower can be seen across most of the Northern Hemisphere starting around 3 am on Monday, January 4. Here's a guide to how it formed and how to see it.
The Quadrantids, which peak during early-January each year, are considered to be one of the best annual meteor showers. Most meteor showers have a two day peak, which makes catching sight of these other meteors much more possible. The Quadrantids peak, on the other hand, is much shorter -- only a few hours. (The reason the peak is so short is due to the shower's thin stream of particles and the fact that the Earth crosses the stream at a perpendicular angle.) During its peak, 60 to as many as 200 Quadrantid meteors can be seen per hour under perfect conditions.
Quadrantids are also known for their bright fireball meteors. Fireballs are larger explosions of light and color that can persist longer than an average meteor streak. This is due to the fact that fireballs originate from larger particles of material. Fireballs are also brighter, with magnitudes brighter than -3.
Unlike most meteor showers which originate from comets, the Quadrantids originate from an asteroid: asteroid 2003 EH1. Asteroid 2003 EH1 takes 5.52 years to orbit the sun once. It is possible that 2003 EH is a "dead comet" or a new kind of object being discussed by astronomers called a "rock comet."
2003 EH1 was discovered on 6 March 2003 by the Lowell Observatory Near-Earth Object Search (LONEOS). 2003 EH1 is a small asteroid -- its diameter measures only about 3 km across. It was astronomer and research scientist Peter Jenniskens who realized that 2003 EH1 is the source for the Quadrantid meteors.