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Interested in viewing celestial events that take place in the winter month of January?¬†sky phone number¬† Clear skies are one of the advantages to viewing the night sky in the winter and January offers plenty of good opportunities for backyard astronomy. One such viewing opportunity is The Quadrantid meteor shower. Learn more about this January meteor shower …

The Discovery and History of the Quadrantids

The Quadrantid meteor shower is special in that while most meteor showers originate from comets, the Quadrantids originate from an asteroid called, 2003 EH1. Some speculation exists that this asteroid is a fragment of the comet C/1490 Y1 that broke off approximately 500 years ago. The discovery of the origin of the shower didn’t come until 2003.

This meteor shower was first recorded in the 1830s by a Belgian astronomer named Adophe Quetelet. It was he who noted that this cosmic event might be an annually occurring phenomenon. Up until about 1863, there is little record of much observation of this shower. In 1863, an American astronomer, Stillman Masterman, determined the exact constellation location (radiant) from which this shower originates. The constellation’s name in the 16th century was the Quadrans Muralis (Mural Quadrant). Thus, this shower was named the Quadrantid shower.

Where to Find the Quadrantid Meteor Shower

The American astronomer determined that the radiant of this shower is located near the constellations of Hercules, Bootes and Draco. More specifically, one must look to the Big Dipper and go to the end of the handle in the area between it and the head of the constellation of Draco.

When to Observe the Quadrantid Meteor

When is the best time to view the Quadrantid meteor shower? While the whole time period actually lasts from about 28 December to 7 January, the night of 3/4 January is the optimal time for viewing. More specifically, the time between midnight and morning twilight. At this time, the viewer has the best chance of catching that peak intensity window. At their peak, the Quadrantids can offer anywhere from ten to sixty meteors in an hour, with some reports of over 100 per hour.

Observing the Quadrantid proves to be a little difficult, and it’s due to this difficulty that research on this January meteor shower is limited. Firstly, the meteor shower is, for the most part, limited to viewers in the Northern Hemisphere. In addition, the best viewing conditions only exist in the northernmost countries in the Northern Hemisphere. For example, Canada and the Scandinavian nations. Secondly, the peak hours of intensity are few in number, and the early and late days yield very few observational activity. One must catch the Quadrantids at their peak hour in order to see much significant activity.