Quadrantid Meteor Shower Will Sparkle on January 3rd

Beginning each New Year and lasting for nearly a week, the Quadrantid Meteor Shower sparkles across the night sky for nearly all viewers around the world. Its radiant belongs to an extinct constellation once known as Quadran Muralis, but any meteors will seem to come from the general direction of bright Arcturus and Boötes. This is a very narrow stream, which may have once belonged to a portion of the Aquarids, but recent scientific data points to a what may have been a cosmic collision.

According the most recent data, the Quandrantid meteors may have been formed about five centuries ago when a near-Earth asteroid named 2003 EH1 and a comet smashed into one another. Historic records from ancient China put comet C/1490 Y1 in the path of probability. As Jupiter’s gravity continues to perturb the stream, another 400 years may mean this shower will become as extinct as the constellation for which it was once known… But NASA scientists and astronomers are taking to the skies to study the event.

A Gulfstream V aircraft will fly scientists and their instruments for 10 continuous hours over the Arctic to observe and record meteor activity. From above the Earth, the stream can be studied without light pollution and clouds to determine when the activity peaks and how the stream is dispersed. “We will fly to the North Pole and back to compensate for Earth’s rotation and to keep the stream in view throughout the flight,â€? said Peter Jenniskens, a principal investigator at NASA’s Ames Research Center.

According to NASA, scientists believe this could be the most brilliant meteor shower in 2008 with over 100 visible meteors per hour at its peak. Best viewing times with the highest meteor rates are expected to be in either the late evening of Jan. 3 over Europe and western Asia or the early morning of Jan. 4 over the eastern United States. For the USA: 6pm – 2am (Pacific Time) on Jan. 3 and 4, 2008. For Northern Europe: 2am – 10am (London) on Jan. 4, 2008. For Northern Asia: 11am – 7pm (Tokyo) on Jan. 4, 2008. For almost of us, this means bundling up against the cold and battling the remnants of the waning Moon… But the sight of even one “shooting star” can make the trip worthwhile!

Will the Quadrantid Meteor Shower live up to its expectations? No one knows for sure… But we’ll be watching!

38 Replies to “Quadrantid Meteor Shower Will Sparkle on January 3rd”

  1. To Georgie
    Maybe – Bootes rises up to the horizon just before sunrise, so you’ll have to gaze to the North and East skies before sunrise, and perhaps catch a few of them.

  2. Just saw a spectacular one travel a great distance across the sky. This was at 5:00 pm central time while still daylight. Couldn’t believe it and came in to investigate and discovered it is the time of year for this shower. Can’t wait until the 3 and 4th !!!

  3. What time and what direction would be the best for viewing in the Midwest.

    Thanks for the info.

  4. Saw one last night at 8:30 pm central time in Texas. It was fairly large, brilliant – white at the front, trailing blue and red color behind. It traveled at incredible speed from east to west. Came in at about 30°, with about a 2° height to the streak from my point of view. It disappeared behind the horizon, so I guess it must have hit, hopefully in an open area, somewhere south of Kileen, TX. I’ve seen meteors (or meteorites?) streak across the sky before, but they were high up, short-lived, with no particular color in the streak. This one was spectacular and beautiful to see.

  5. I want to know if its possible to see from australia and if so what would be the best time for it.

    I can only guess it it might be similar to the toyko time. Please I really want to see this. I would like a reply asap.

  6. For a meteor shower there is no particular direction to view, the direction that is refered to is the RADIANT or the direction of the meteor tail, if you follow it back to the constelation theat it appears to come from….
    Meteors come from our solar system and not from another constelation.

  7. The best way to view is to break-out the old lounge chair, bundle up if your in the Northern hemisphere, lay back and scan the sky.

    You hear about watching the east, that is because the earth is rotating to the east and the peak of the meteor shower is when your location on earth enters the old comet tail, (debris orbit), in this case, you want to be looking through the windsheild, as the bugs (meteors) hit it.

    Not an easy concept to put into words, kind of like explaining why the moon has phases without being face to face, I speak a lot with my hands

  8. Just saw a brilliant meteor directly overhead 10:55 EST traveling E to W (roughly). Oddly, there was no streaking trail, just an extremely bright point of light moving VERY fast. Hope to see more soon!

  9. MY SON (ALEXANDER) SAW SOME THIS MORNING AS HE WAS HEADING OUT FOR SCHOOL.
    ROCHESTER, NY

  10. (Tampa/St. Pete Florida… )
    Its now 11:33pm. I have been sittin outside and still have not seen anything yet..

    Not quite sure in what direction I am suppose to be looking, so I am layin flat in view of the whole sky with no lights around

    I am gonna do some more research then go back out there

  11. Just wondering what are the best times for lower alabama?hoping to make it out to see, but it would be helpful if I knew the best time?

  12. In Orlando, saw one about 5 minutes ago before the clouds rolled over. It was directly overhead with a tail… Definitely worth sitting in the cold!

  13. I stood awake up to 3:45AM and I see a lot of stars in the sky. I managed to see 4 shooting stars. It was so cold and I lay down to see the the 4th one. It was beautiful. It’s worth sitting out in the cold.

  14. Saw a bright streak heading from east to west about 6 AM in Indiana on 1/4/2007. Was this one of the quadrantid meteors?

  15. Saw a bright streak heading from east to west about 6 AM in Indiana on 1/4/2007. Was this one of the quadrantid meteors?

  16. Wooo hooo!! The Quadrantids were a great success here in Ohio! I was afraid the skies weren’t going to clear, but a 3:00 a.m. the temperature had dropped to nearly single digits and the wind drove the clouds away.

    In a period of 3.5 hours I counted over 100 meteors. Not bad considering I couldn’t stand the cold longer than 30 minutes at a time. What I noticed most in my area was the activity seemed to come in “flurries” rather than a steady pace. About once every half hour for a period of about 15 minutes, the activity would really step up. Anywhere from 15-20 would occur virtually within seconds of each other. Evidence of concentrations in the stream? Jupiter’s gravity attracting certain areas to leave voids?

    My second observation was the diverse magnitudes, apparent speed and trail lengths. Some of them were extremely bright, around +2 magnitude and leave wide trails that covered between 40 to 50 degrees of sky. Oddly enough… these were also what appeared to be the slower meteors and they happened less frequently. The majority of the meteors were very fast, perhaps magnitude 3 and didn’t leave a trail of more than 5 degrees. While they were true to the radiant, they were also closer to the horizon than the zenith. Is it possible this diverse nature speaks of different sizes of meteoroids and different chemical compositions?

    I have yet to go over all my FM radio recordings of the meteor scatter, but just a brief clip or two proved to be very successful as well. Let’s hope our flying scientists also had great success and share their reports!

    Keep looking up… Random activity will occur for several days yet. The best time for viewers anywhere is around 2-3 a.m. local time until dawn… and if you can see the radiant point (roughly around Arcturus) you can also see the meteor shower.

    Good luck!

  17. The quadrantids were a total disappointment in 2008, despite there being perfect conditions, with totally clear skies

    I live on Long Island in New York. I was on the ocean side of Fire Island from 9:20 p.m. on Thursday January 3rd until 3:50 a.m. on Friday, January 4th. I saw only 1 possible meteorite during this time period. There was so much hype about this being potentially the best meteor shower of the year. It was a total bust from my viewpoint. Did anyone else on Long island have the same or different experience than me?

    Ken Biegen
    Dix Hills, New York

  18. I forgot the day and had the 7th in my head. But I still plan to go out either tonight or tmw night and see what can be seen. I don’t know what the cloud cover will be like but I know that here in Ohio we are having abnormally warm weather for Jan. I’ll let you know what I find in the next couple days.

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