Skip to comments.Strong Quadrantid Meteor Shower, One of 2012's Best, Peaks Wednesday (Right Now 3 AM Central)
Posted on 01/04/2012 1:57:19 AM PST by Yosemitest
Always difficult to see
Unfortunately, many factors combine to make the peak of this display difficult to observe on a regular basis:
It is not surprising then, that the Quadrantids are not as well-known as some of the other annual meteor showers, but 2012 may prove to be an exception. [12 Must-See Skywatching Events in 2012]
Promising viewing prospects
According to Robert Lunsford of the American Meteor Society, maximum activity this year is expected on Wednesday morning, Jan. 4 at 2:30 a.m. EST (0730 GMT).
For those in the eastern United States, the radiant — that point in the sky from where the meteors will appear to emanate from — will be about one-third of the way up in the east-northeast sky. The farther to the north and east you go, the higher in the sky the radiant will be. To the south and west the radiant will be lower and the meteors will be fewer.
Although the moon will be at a bright waxing gibbous phase, it will set by 3 a.m., leaving the sky dark for prospective meteor watchers until the first light of dawn appears at around 6 a.m.
Quadrantid meteors are described as bright and bluish with long silvery trains. Some years produce a mere handful, but for favorably placed observers, this could be a shower to remember; at greatest activity, according to Lunsford, "Eastern observers may be able to see 60-75 Quadrantids per hour." [Amazing meteor shower photos]
"If your skies are very clear and dark, allowing you to see faint meteors, your rates could top 100 per hour. Observers located in the western portions of North American will have lower rates but will also have the opportunity to see Quadrantid 'earthgrazers,'" Lunsford added. "Earthgrazers are meteors that skim the upper portion of the atmosphere therefore lasting much longer than normal and producing long trails in the sky. These meteors can only be seen when the radiant lies close to the horizon. As the radiant rises, the meteor paths will become shorter with shorter durations."
Outside of North America, Quadrantid rates could reach around 15-30 per hour for places north of the equator, but observers south of the equator will have little chance of seeing any "Quads" since the radiant will have little chance to clear the horizon before morning twilight interferes.
Don't forget to bundle up!
Finally, so far as weather conditions are concerned, a large high pressure system is expected to dominate the weather across much of the eastern United States and Canada for the peak of the shower meaning skies for these areas should be mainly clear for prospective meteor watchers.
However, it is also expected to be unseasonably cold (perhaps "unreasonably" is a better term to use!), with sub-zero readings possible over parts of upstate New York and New England with sub-freezing temperatures possible down into the Deep South. As one astronomer said prior to a mid-winter meteor watch: "Take the advice of a man whose teeth have chattered on many a winter's night — wrap up much more warmly than you think is necessary!"
You can also watch the Quadrantid meteor shower online via this NASA website: http://www.nasa.gov/topics/solarsystem/features/watchtheskies/quadrantids_2012.html
ping — beautiful clear skies in SE w/record cold
I got to see one. It was a beautiful long streak. About the only nice thing about getting out in the freezing cold and walking the dogs at 4:30.
Tried to get some pictures. Darn near froze my a$$ off.
Went until all the batteries gave out, no idea if I got anything, I’ll have to check the data later. Saw some nice low and slow ones.
Went out, too cold for me @ 21 deg. F. Ended up just getting the paper.
Don’t miss it - bundle up - meteor showers are spectacular!
I go out every Aug. for the Perseids.
Some years are better than others.
I missed this one, getting light here. Will go for the next.
To really have a good sky, I have to drive about 10 minutes out of town. I caught a real meteor shower a few years ago after driving to the country, and I will never forget that one. It was in August with no moon. The tv news the next am reported it fizzled and did not meet expectations (when viewed within the city, lol). For me, it was the meteor shower of my lifetime. I saw at least a 100; fireballs, splitting meteors etc. Spent an hour observing, and this one event made all the no shows worthwhile.
‘I caught a real meteor shower a few years ago_________’
I should really get away from the street lights, etc., and go somewhere more dark.
And yet I have seen neat stuff both from back and front (small) yards, in Aug.
Like you said - one great meteor show can make the no-shows worthwhile.
All this going on overhead, and most are unaware!
Off to bed!
no show here in Texas.
Two no shows from Texas in one night.
Is it just me, or does it seem that all of the coolest things like this happen at the most insane hours of the night. It can’t be at 9:30 or 10:00. It always has to be like an hour or two before Sunrise or something crazy.
Thanks Captain Beyond.
An ‘extra extra’ ping to the APoD list.
I don’t know. I don’t think I want to see fireballs or the likes in the daytime sky. I’m not limber enough anymore to be able to kiss my ass goodbye.
Most nights one can lie out under the stars and observe incoming space debris; these showers are just a bit more frequent, at least one streak a minute. True storms of meteors have been observed from time to time, a few times a century, and the rates are perhaps four or five a minute. Even those are related to annual showers, and have from time to time seem to have been the swan song of some well-known ones.
There’s also the matter of the location of the Sun on visibility. The sky has to be quite dark to observe most streakers. I’ve had the pleasure of seeing a daylight meteor, it was quite a display, during the summer of 2002. It was large enough to appear to be actually tumbling, and was throwing off pieces of itself. I never heard of any parts touching down, nor do I know the distance at the time (iow, whether it was picked up on radar), but I and the others present lost sight of it behind the nearby trees.
[snip] The peak intensity is exceedingly sharp: the meteor rates exceed one-half of their highest value for only about 8 hours (compared to two days for the August Perseids). This means that the stream of particles that produces this shower is narrow — and apparently deriving from and within the last 500 years from some orbiting body. The parent body of the Quadrantids was recently tentatively identified (in a paper by Peter Jenniskens) as the minor planet 2003 EH1, which in turn may be the same object as the comet C/1490 Y1  which was observed by Chinese, Japanese and Korean astronomers 500 years ago. [snip]
Rain of Iron and IceOn November 27,1919, a meteorite fell into Lake Michigan near the Michigan shore. "Residents of Battle Creek, Kalamazoo, South Bend, Grand Haven, and other Western Michigan cities fled from their homes in panic, fearing an earthquake. Houses were shaken, the country was illuminated as by a bright sun's rays, so all-enveloping it was impossible to tell from which direction the flare came, the earth trembled for half a moment and then came a deep prolonged rumbling as of a terrific explosion." (p 159)
by John S. Lewis
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