Quadrantids Meteor Shower Kicks off the New Year; Moon Plays Spoilsport

Another meteor shower is upon us. The Quadrantids are all set to blaze across the night sky. The only problem? The bright Moon!

The elusive Quadrantids

The full moon day happened only a few days back on the 28th of December and the moon is in its gibbous phase. They start off this year’s journey for meteor hunters and are known for intense and numerous. The maximum is a short intense one which lasts for something like an hour or so. After that you’ll find practically zero meteors. After the incredible Geminids a few days back, you might have trouble believing that meteor shower maxima can be so very short!

The location of the Quadrantids

The Quadrantids are named after the constellation Quadrans Muralis, which is now an obsolete constellation. So, in terms of the modern constellations, it’s near the head of Draco, the snake or the arm of the Big Dipper, if you prefer

The meteor shower will peak late tonight and continue on till the morning of 3rd January. But being the intense peak, if you’re late – or looking the other way – you’ll miss it.

The chances of missing it are really high, unfortunately. The moon will be bright and it being winter in the northern latitudes, the fog is expected to play major spoilsport. And since, the peak is late at night, when the fog formation is the strongest, you’ll definitely need to be insanely lucky.

In North America, the peak is expected to be at about 2-3 AM at about 30 degrees from the horizon on the east. As you go to the east, the morning comes earlier and the sky grows brighter when the peak actually arrives, making it hard to see the meteors.

No wonder Quadrantids are not as popular as the Geminids or the Perseids.

Best of luck.

Published by

Debjyoti Bardhan

Is a science geek, currently pursuing some sort of a degree (called a PhD) in Physics at TIFR, Mumbai. An enthusiastic but useless amateur photographer, his most favourite activity is simply lazing around. He is interested in all things interesting and scientific.