Quadrantid Meteor Shower 2013 Peaks Thursday Night

Check out when's the best time to watch it and where to look. Hint—it's early morning Jan. 4, when the moon sets.

The Quadrantid meteor shower is named for an extinct constellation, but the shooting stars that seem to sprout from it still arrive yearly, and the opening of the 2013 show will begin overnight Jan. 1 into Jan. 2.

Where do you plan to try watching the Quadrantids meteor shower in Smyrna-Vinings and the aurrounding area? Tell us in the comments section below.

The Quadrantids is one of the lesser-known meteor showers of the year, but that doesn't mean it's less than spectacular. Take a look at this Quadrantids meteor shower video or these pictures of the Quadrantids.

While the shower begins overnight on the first day of the new year, NASA tells us Quadrantid meteor shower peaks in the wee morning hours of Jan. 4: "The Quadrantids have a maximum rate of about 100 per hour, varying between 60-200.

The waxing gibbous moon will set around 3 a.m. local time, leaving about two hours of excellent meteor observing before dawn."

Where to look

The best way to spot the meteor shower is to look north (and a little east) and find the Big Dipper (Ursa Major) then look farther north (which would be roughly "up" if the Big Dipper were holding liquid). The constellation Draco ("Dragon") has a "head" of four bright stars that look a little bit like the four stars that make up the cup end of the Big Dipper. "Up" between the end of the Big Dipper's handle and Draco's head, you should spot the meteors. It's near the constellation Boötes.

"Meteor Mark," who writes "Meteor Blog," recommends looking near Boötes, and he has another tip about spotting the meteors: "Quadrantids can be seen anywhere in the sky and if you see one in an area, you’re likely to see more in that spot, so keep your eyes transfixed to that location.

Check out this sky map from Spacedex.com and their new information about where to look (and don't get confused when they talk about "the night of Jan. 3"— the peak is just before dawn on Friday, Jan. 4.)

From NASA:

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration website gives this description of the history of the Quadrantids in astronomy:

"Like the Geminids, the Quadrantids originate from an asteroid, called 2003 EH1. Dynamical studies suggest that this body could very well be a piece of a comet which broke apart several centuries ago, and that the meteors you will see before dawn on Jan. 3 are the small debris from this fragmentation. After hundreds of years orbiting the sun, they will enter our atmosphere at 90,000 mph, burning up 50 miles above Earth's surface—a fiery end to a long journey!  

"The Quadrantids derive their name from the constellation of Quadrans Muralis (mural quadrant), which was created by the French astronomer Jerome Lalande in 1795. Located between the constellations of Boötes and Draco, Quadrans represents an early astronomical instrument used to observe and plot stars. Even though the constellation is no longer recognized by astronomers, it was around long enough to give the meteor shower—first seen in 1825—its name."

Adolphe Quetelet of the Brussels Observatory discovered the shower in the 1830s, and shortly afterward it was noted by several other astronomers in Europe and America.

Spacedex.com says the annual Quadrantids shower has one of the highest predicted hourly rates of all the major showers, and is comparable to the two of the most lively, the August Perseids and the December Geminids. Read more about the Quadrantids showers on Spacedex.com.


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