Tonight’s Quadrantid meteor shower promises a spectacle for those of us lucky enough to be in the right latitude at the right time. The Quadrantid meteor shower is the first astronomical spectacle of the year. Somehow, it has failed to harvest the same attention other meteor showers have. The Geminids, Leonids or Perseids are just a few to mention.
Nonetheless, the Quadrantid meteor shower is spectacular. An unique astronomical event that only reveals itself throughout a few peak hours, the first meteor shower of the year shouldn’t be missed.
The Quadrantid meteor shower takes its name from a constellation which doesn’t exist anymore. Quadrans Muralis, the constellation that gave its name to the Quadrantid meteor shower has been reclassified by the International Astronomical Union in three smaller constellations: Bootes, Dracos and The Big Dipper.
Moreover, the Quadrantid meteor shower is a tad unusual compared its brethren. The meteors aren’t the conventional result of a comet disintegrating in the atmosphere. This debris stems from a mysterious object discovered in 2003 and named 2003 EHI. 2003 EHI is a bit of a headache for astronomers trying to understand its true nature. According to various descriptions, 2003 EHI may be a dead comet, a minor planet or an asteroid. While the existence of 2003 EHI was theorized back in 1997, it took scientists another 6 years to really catch a quick glimpse of the mysterious object.
Well, the debris the mysterious object known as 2003 EHI leaves behind makes up the meteors of the Quadrantid meteor shower. The Quadrantid meteor shower will burn brighter than most of other meteor showers. In addition, the meteors have longer trails. Thus, Tonight’s Quadrantid meteor shower promises a spectacle. With NASA calculations predicting about 80 meteors brightening the sky each hour at a 25-mile per hour speed, it should be a lovely sight.
However, be warned. The Quadrantid meteor shower peaks only for a few hours. This being said, tonight’s Quadrantid meteor shower promises a spectacle peaking at around 3 a.m. The Quadrantid meteor shower will last until the early hours of January 4th. The next window to catch the show is only scheduled next year.
Photo Credits: Wikimedia