Quadrantid Meteor Shower: 2013’s First Galactic Light Show

The Quadrantid Meteor Shower will be on display in the northeast sky before sunrise January 2-4, 2013. The years first meteor shower may even be this years best, producing between 60 to 200 meteors per hour, with an average of 80.

The Quadrantid Meteor Shower was originally named for a now extinct constellation, Quadrans Muralis, which was deleted from the International Astronomical Union’s constellation map in 1922. The Quadrantid Meteor Shower was then reassigned to the constellation Bootes, keeping the name Quadrantid, perhaps because of the Bootids Meteor Shower that occurs later in January each year.

Peter Jenniskens of the NASA Ames Research Center uncovered evidence that the Quadrantid’s originated from the asteroid 2003 EH1, which studies indicate is a piece of a comet which broke apart several hundred years ago, these meteoroids being the debris from this fragmentation.

This year’s first meteor display will come and go in short order, only lasting several hours each day. It will only be visible to observers viewing from north of latitude 51° south.

Additionally, viewing may be disrupted by the waning gibbous moon, a reference to an almost full moon.

The Quadrantid Meteor Shower is expected to peak at 2:20 AM EST on Wednesday, January 4, 2013.

Article by Jim Donahue

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