The first meteor shower of the year 2015 will light up the night sky over the coming weekend, as the annual Quadrantids make an appearance. The celestial treat will best be seen in the northern hemisphere because of the high northern gradient of the Quadrantid meteor. The phenomenon will be visible on January 3 and 4, peaking around Saturday night.
Most meteor showers are named after the constellation in which their radiant is located. Explaining Perseids named after Perseus and Geminids named after Gemini but not without raising questions about the name ‘Quadrantids’ since there is no constellation by the name of ‘Quadrans’. “It turns out that there once was a constellation named Quadrans Muralis, the Wall Quadrant, which was incorporated into the constellation Boötes in 1922,” explains Discovery.
The meteor showers produced by Quadrantids can, at its peak, match those produced by the Perseids, the chances of seeing the former are much lesser because the peak time of their showers is much narrower. Astronomers are predicting, from their past experience, the showers to peak on the night of Jan. 3 at 9 p.m. EST (0200 GMT).
“As the night progresses, the radiant will rise higher in the northeastern sky, so that more meteors should be visible over a larger swath of sky, mostly in the east. By the beginning of dawn, around 6 a.m., the radiant will be high in the eastern sky,” points out Discovery.
“However, by then the shower will be 9 hours past its peak, and the bulk of the meteors will be past. The best time to look for Quadrantids will be between midnight and 2 a.m. your local time. Remember to dress warmly, and watch the sky in the east, about half way up to the zenith,” it added.
Those who love to watch celestial events like this one and are keen to catch a glimpse of the elusive Quadrantids, the Slooh Community Observatory will be hosting a live streaming of the peak of the meteor shower.
According to AccuWeather.com, the first meteor shower of the year could be obscured by a storm over parts of the United States. The view will be good across the northeast and in Florida, but there will be numerous clouds from the east of the Rockies.
“It should be clear up and down the West Coast from Seattle to Los Angeles and also be clear across most of the Four Corners states,” a meteorologist for AccuWeather.com said.
The moon might also act as a spoilsport. The waxing moon, which will be only a day short of its full phase, will be above the horizon all night long and its brightness might wash out some part of the view.