Quadrantids Meteor Shower 2019

The Quadrantid meteor shower is 2019’s first major meteor shower. Best time to watch is probably late night January 3 until dawn January 4. We’ll have moon-free skies for the peak this year. Although the Quadrantids have been known to produce some 50-100 meteors in a dark sky, their peak is extremely narrow, time-wise. Peaks of the Perseid or Geminid meteor showers persist for a day or more, allowing all time zones around the world to enjoy a good display of Perseids or Geminids. But the Quadrantids’ peak lasts only a few hours. The shower favors the Northern Hemisphere because its radiant point is so far north on the sky’s dome.

The radiant point of the Quadrantid shower makes an approximate right angle with the Big Dipper and the bright star Arcturus. If you trace the paths of the Quadrantid meteors backward, they appear to radiate from this point on the starry sky.

You don’t need to find the meteor shower radiant to see the Quadrantid meteors. You just have to be at mid-northern or far-northern latitudes, up in the wee hours of the morning and hope the peak comes at just the right time to your part of the world. The meteors will radiate from the northern sky, but appear in all parts of the sky.

The Quadrantids are named for a constellation that no longer exists. Most meteor showers are named for the constellations from which they appear to radiate. So it is with the Quadrantids. But the Quadrantids’ constellation no longer exists, except in memory. The name Quadrantids comes from the constellation Quadrans Muralis (Mural Quadrant), created by the French astronomer Jerome Lalande in 1795. This now-obsolete constellation was located between the constellations of Bootes the Herdsman and Draco the Dragon.

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