Sunday, January 3, 2016

NASA Video: Quadrantid Meteor Shower Peaks Tonight

The Quadrantid Meteor Shower will peak overnight tonight, January 3, 2016, and into the early morning of January 4, 2016. The following NASA YouTube video shows where and when to look for the Quadrantid meteors in the U.S. and Europe.

The Quadrantid Meteor Shower tonight may favor the U.S. or it could favor Europe, depending on which prediction turns out to be correct, according to NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. The Quadrantids are somewhat unpredictable, but can have a maximum rate of about 80 per hour, varying between 60 and 200 meteors per hour.  A waning cresent moon will rise between 1 a.m. and 2 a.m. local time tonight that will only have 38% illumination - so the meteors would only be slightly washed out by this year's moonlight.

Where to look for the Quadrantid meteor shower:

The shower’s radiant, in the obsolete constellation Quadrans Muralis, is in a star-poor but familiar area in the northeast sky. It makes a triangle with Ursa Major and Ursa Minor – the big and little dippers. 

Where to watch the Quadrantid meteor shower:

Given the location of the radiant at the northern tip of Bootes the Herdsman, only observers in Earth's northern hemisphere will be able to see Quadrantids. Alaska and Hawaii are geographically the most favored for observing the short peak of this shower. The U.S. west coast will see more than further east across the continental United States.

When to watch January's meteor shower:

U.S. Observers should begin looking at 08:00 Universal Time – which is midnight Pacific or 3 a.m. Eastern Standard Time. European observers should look 8 hours earlier at 00 UT. The peak should last about two hours, with rates of 120 meteors per hour predicted in areas with a dark sky.

The morning of January 4, 2016 in the United States

3 AM Eastern Standard Time

2 AM Central Standard Time

1 AM Mountain Standard Time

12 AM Pacific Standard Time

Image and video credit: NASA/JPL