The Quadrantids meteor shower is visible between January 1 and January 5 with the best viewing dates being January 3-4. The origin of the Quadrantids meteor shower is inside the constellation Bootes, high in the northern sky. This means the showers cannot be seen well if at all in the southern hemisphere. The meteor shower produces 50 to 120 meteors per hour, lasts only a few hours and is best viewed after midnight.

In 2003, NASA Ames Research Center found that the meteoroids come from 2003 EH1, an asteroid that is likely a piece of a comet that broke apart 500 or so years ago. Earth passes through the orbit of 2003 EH1 at a perpendicular angle, meaning we move quickly through any debris. This means the shower activity is somewhat short.

The Quadrantid meteors take their name from an obsolete constellation, Quadrans Muralis, found in early 19th-century star atlases between Draco, Hercules, and Bootes. Along with a few other constellations, it was removed from crowded sky maps in 1922 when the International Astronomical Union adopted the modern list of 88 officially-recognized constellations. The Quadrantids, which were re-mapped to Bootes after Quadrans Muralis disappeared, kept their name–probably because another January shower was already widely-known to meteor watchers as the Bootids. The map below should help point out the direction in the sky to look for these meteor showers. Of course viewing will be better with a clear sky which can be a problem in January.

Advertisements