Today marks the last day of the 2012, and 2013 will begin with excitement as the annual Quadrantid meteor shower will enter Earth’s atmosphere during the first week of the new year. Sky observers can admire the spectacle during the last hours of January 3 into dawn of January 4. So who will be lucky enough to successfully see and enjoy the shower’s peak?
According to the Observer’s Handbook, the universal peak time will be at 1300 UTC. To translate your time zone in UTC, you can find out here. NASA reports that the event will begin during January 1, but its peak will be most visible during the first hours of January 4. The peak time is only an estimate, so devoted observers should exercise their patience for several hours between January 3 and January 4.
According to NASA, "The Quadrantids have a maximum rate of about 100 per hour varying from 60-200. The waxing gibbous moon will set around 3 am local time, leaving about two hours of excellent meteor observing before dawn.”
NASA also provides a unique history of the Quadrantrid meteor showers. The Quadrantids are unique because their peaks only last a few hours, whereas Perseid and Geminid showers have longer durations. The name Quadrantid originates from the constellation Quadrans Muralis which was discovered in 1795 by French astronomer Jerome Lalande. The first recorded meteor shower that originated from the constellation’s location occurred in 1825, therefore giving the event its name.
The best place to watch is contingent on the shower’s radiant point is in the Northern Hemisphere. The map courtesy of Earth and Moon Viewer above shows predicted areas of day and night during the Quadrantid shower. Based on the map, Asia may be able to see the beginning of the shower’s peak, and North America may be able to experience the event as well during the dawn of January 4th.
NASA will provide a live-stream of the meteor shower during the evening of January 2 through January 4. The live feed can be found at NASA’s Ustream channel. Once again, the date and time of the annual Quadrantid shower is a scientific estimate, however die-hard sky gazers will venture outdoors and the cold temperatures nonetheless. Footage compiled from August 2012’s Perseid Meteor shower may provide a preview of what the 2013 Quadrantid shower may look like.