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A Fine Night for a Meteor Shower

Expect the radiant of the Quadrantid meteor shower to start to rise high in the early morning hours.

 

Tonight astronomers will be gazing toward the night skies to get a glimpse of a quadrantid meteor shower. It's expected to be one of the best but least observed annual meteor showers notes Alan MacRobert in an online Sky & Skope post.

The Quadrantids should be most active in the early morning hours of Wednesday the 4th. The Moon sets around 3 a.m. local time then, leaving the sky dark until the first light of dawn around 6 a.m.

"Astronomy guidebooks say the Quads are one of the richest annual meteor showers, with peak rates of 60 to 200 visible per hour under ideal conditions. But many lifelong skywatchers have never seen a single one," notes MacRobert.

MacRobert notes in his post that the Quadrantids are expected to peak around 2 or 3 a.m. Eastern Standard Time.

"The shower’s radiant (its apparent perspective point of origin) is in the antique constellation Quadrans Muralis about halfway from the end of the big Dipper’s handle to the head of Draco, .... It’s reasonably well up in the northeast after about 1 a.m. local time and keeps rising higher until dawn. The higher a shower’s radiant, the more meteors appear all over the sky. Watch whatever part of your sky is darkest, probably straight up," explains MacRobert.

The Quadrantids originate from an asteroid, not a comet. After tonight's meteor shower, watch for the Lyrids to arrive in late April.

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