2023 Quadrantids The meteor shower peaks in a burst of fire

2023 Quadrantids The meteor shower peaks in a burst of fire

The early months of each year have a relative dearth of meteor showers, so the Quadrantids during the first week often draw shooting star watchers outside. They put on the show some sky watchers have been waiting for Tuesday night and Wednesday evening.

Although December is full of opportunities to catch abundant Geminid and Ursid meteors, the Quadrantid meteor shower is the only major shower of the first quarter of the year, and it briefly peaked Tuesday night and Wednesday morning. ‘this week.

Like the Geminids i Ursids, the Quadrantids are often among the year’s heaviest showers, but these meteors don’t get as much hype as the northern summer Perseids in August that hit during the summer holidays for many observers of the sky Also, the window of opportunity to see Quadrantids is very narrow, with a peak of intense activity lasting just six hours this year, according to the American Meteor Society.

Other showers may have peaks that last a day or two, with a lesser, but still decent, amount of activity extending for days before and after the actual peak.

To capture the Quadrantids, there are two factors to consider: what time the shower arrives at a given location and how high the quadrant of the night sky is where the Quadrantids appear to originate at that time.

There is no guarantee of predicting the exact time of peak activity for a meteor shower, but the target range for the best viewing times this year was between 3:40am and 6:40am am UTC on January 4 (19:40 to 22:40 UTC). pm PT Tuesday). That said, the area of ​​the sky from which the Quadrantids radiate is in the area of ​​the constellation Bootes the Shepherd, and this radiant was highest in the sky between 2 and 6 a.m. local

Where these two windows overlap in the Northern Hemisphere, you have the best places on the planet to observe the Quadrantids. This week it seemed to be almost any locality in or near the North Atlantic.

Predictions called for about 25 quadrants per hour under ideal conditions, including lots of shooting stars and a few fireballs. A lucky Quadrantid burst producing up to 120 meteors per hour was also possible, according to some predictions.

On Wednesday evening International radio meteorite observation project It was already reporting sightings of up to 120 meteors per hour, although it’s unlikely anyone could see them with the naked eye, thanks in large part to the moon, which was 92% full last night.

What you’re actually seeing when a Quadrantid meteor streaks across the sky is a pebble-sized piece. Asteroid 2003 EH1, which some astronomers believe may be an extinct comet or a new type of object, sometimes called a “rock comet”. Over the centuries, EH1 has left a trail of debris in its wake, and our planet passes through this debris stream every January.

If you missed it, mark your calendar for the next big meteor shower, which unfortunately isn’t until the Lyrids come into action at the end of April.

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