Quadrantids: An above average meteor shower reaches peak of activity
The Quadrantid meteor shower will reach its peak activity, with about 80 meteors per hour (ZHR), on the night of January 3 and the early morning hours of January 4, 2015. A waning crescent moon will not interfere much with meteors and any of its fireballs.
This shower was first observed in 1825 and is considered to be one of the best annual meteor showers. However, its peak lasts only a few hours due to its thin stream of particles and the fact that Earth crosses it at a perpendicular angle.
Quadrantids are known for their bright fireball meteors, larger explosions of light and color that can persist longer than an average meteor streak. Fireballs are also brighter, with magnitudes brighter than -3.
Unlike most meteor showers which originate from comets, the Quadrantids originate from an asteroid named 2003 EH1, discovered on March 6, 2003 by the Lowell Observatory Near-Earth Object Search (LONEOS). It is possible, however, that 2003 EH is a "dead comet" or a new kind of object being discussed by astronomers called a "rock comet." It is a small object with a diameter of only about 3 km (1.8 miles).
Quadrantids are best viewed in the northern hemisphere during the night and pre-dawn hours.
Their radiant, the point in the sky from which they appear to come from, is an obsolete constellation called Quadrans Muralis, located between the constellations of Bootes and Draco (near the end of the handle of the "Big Dipper").
An alternative name for the Quadrantids is the Bootids since the meteors appear to radiate from the modern constellation of Bootes.
Featured image: Quadrantid meteor by Josh Beasley (CC – Flickr)
If you value what we do here, create your ad-free account and support our journalism.
Your support makes a difference
Dear valued reader,
We hope that our website has been a valuable resource for you.
The reality is that it takes a lot of time, effort, and resources to maintain and grow this website. We rely on the support of readers like you to keep providing high-quality content.
If you have found our website to be helpful, please consider making a contribution to help us continue to bring you the information you need. Your support means the world to us and helps us to keep doing what we love.
Support us by choosing your support level – Silver, Gold or Platinum. Other support options include Patreon pledges and sending us a one-off payment using PayPal.
Thank you for your consideration. Your support is greatly appreciated.
Commenting rules and guidelines
We value the thoughts and opinions of our readers and welcome healthy discussions on our website. In order to maintain a respectful and positive community, we ask that all commenters follow these rules:
We reserve the right to remove any comments that violate these rules. By commenting on our website, you agree to abide by these guidelines. Thank you for helping to create a positive and welcoming environment for all.