January Meteor Shower: The Quadrantids

Introducing my first (of many to come) astronomy post, featuring the happening right now Quadrantid Meteor Shower! Let’s jump right in so you can get out there to spot these amazing ‘shooting stars,’ here are the highlights you need to know:

Full timeframe
Annual; last week of December up through middle of January (peak: January 3rd – 4th).
Source of meteors
Debris falling off and flaring up in Earth’s atmosphere from the asteroid 2003 EH-1.
Rate of meteors
50-100 meteors per hour during the shower peak.
Namesake
The defunct 19th century constellation Quadrans Muralis, between the Ursa Major and the star Arcturus, what we may refer to as the Bootes constellation now.

View the header image in full size here. This image was created in Stellarium.

Now, for the nitty gritty fun stuff:

One of the shortest peaks of all meteor showers!
That’s right, where most popular meteor shower peaks last a couple of days, the Quadrantids only last but a few hours, specifically between the late night of January 3rd and early morning of January 4th.

Asteroid 2003 EH-1 is a ‘dead comet.’
Most meteor showers hail from comets specifically, while the source of the Quadrantids is technically the classified extinct comet EH-1 (thought to be once part of a larger comet), discovered by Peter Jenniskens.

‘Id’ will always be in the meteor shower name.
You can think of ‘id’ as an identifier to where the meteors will appear in which constellations, eg. Orionids appear in the Orion constellation, Draconids appear in the Draco constellation. Id is Latin, meaning ‘of.’

What exactly are meteors?
Quite simply, it’s the reaction of when meteoroids flare up in Earth’s atmosphere. Most meteoroids do not survive the hot burn up, but if they do, and land, they are then meteorites. Space/meteoroid > atmosphere/meteor > surface/meteorite.

Our moon is doing some cool stuff right now, too!
Not only is our moon glowing bright in its gibbous waxing phase, it’ll also be the closest to Earth during its orbit on January 4th (let’s hope for some clear afternoon skies).

I hope you enjoyed this quick read on the spectacular-to-be Quadrantid Meteor Shower. Stay tuned for more posts on astronomy, constellations, star formations, and all things wonderful about our starry cosmic universe!

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