You Must See 2023’s Most Elusive Meteor Shower Just After New Year’s Day

The Quadrantids The meteor shower is known to light up the sky with bright fireball meteors – but only if you can catch them during their peak few hours, which will occur on the night of January 3-4, 2023, between midnight and midnight. dawn. The Moon will be almost full, so the best sighting will be in the very early hours of the morning, at the dark hour just before dawn.

What causes meteor showers?

Meteor showers remind us that we live on a giant ball of rock flying through space. As it circles the Sun, Earth occasionally encounters dusty debris trailing in the wake of comets – or, in the case of the Quadrantids, the wake of a small asteroid. The dust grains fall into our atmosphere, and they move so fast that the friction of passing air is enough to disintegrate them, creating the tiny streaks of light we see in meteor showers.

Most of our planet’s encounters with these trails of dusty debris occur around the same point in its orbit, so you can think of annual meteor showers as the quadrantids as Earth passes a familiar landmark in the space.

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How old is the Quadrantid meteor shower?

Astronomers first reported the Quadrantid meteor shower in 1825. It got its name because streaks of light from falling meteors seemed to radiate from somewhere in a dark constellation called Quadrans Muralis, near the pole star ( Polaris). A French astronomer named Quadrans Muralis in 1795 after the instrument he used to plot the position of stars, called a quadrant. But when the International Astronomical Union compiled its list of “official” constellations in 1922, Quadrans Muralis was left out.

It took until 2003 for astronomers to discover where the quadrantid meteors came from: a small asteroid called 2003 EH1, which could be the rocky remains of a comet that broke up, either from the heat of the Sun, or because it collided with something. It’s only about two miles wide, which is small for an asteroid – and that means the trail of dust in its wake is also quite narrow.

Earth also crosses the dust trail at right angles, shortening the time we spend crossing it. That’s why the annual Quadrantids fireworks display is so short. Most meteor showers last several weeks but have two or three days of really intense activity, because that’s when Earth breaks through the densest part of their original dust cloud. But while the Quadrantids technically last from late December to mid-January, the real spectacle only lasts a few hours.

Where to See the Quadrantid Meteor Shower

The quadrantids are primarily a northern hemisphere meteor shower, although if you are north of 51° south you may be able to catch a glimpse of it. They should be visible throughout the night sky, but they will appear to radiate from a point near Polaris, the North Star (look for the end of the Big Dipper’s handle).

For the best view, get as far away from city lights as possible (and don’t forget to turn off your car headlights) and find an open space with as wide a view of the sky as possible. It’s January, so be prepared for the cold. And don’t give up too soon; give your eyes at least half an hour to adjust to the dark.

Quadrantid meteor shower forecast 2023

The Quadrantids have a habit of producing a lot of fireballs: large bursts of light that occur when larger dust particles meet a fiery end in the upper atmosphere. At its peak, the Quadrantid Shower can wow viewers with 60 to over 100 meteors per hour if conditions are ideal. However, January weather doesn’t often provide perfect conditions for the entire northern hemisphere, and the near-full moon will light up the sky for most of the night, making brief flashes harder to spot. Meteor spotters are advised to be prepared for anything.

When is the next meteor shower for 2023? — The next meteor shower will be the Lyrids, which is expected to peak on April 21-22, 2023.

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