The Quadrantid Meteor Shower 2024: Shooting Stars in January 2024

~4 min

Welcome to 2024! Have you made your New Year's resolutions and planned your astronomical calendar for the year? If not, check out our guide on the astronomical events of 2024. And let the first stargazing event of the year be the spectacular Quadrantids! Let’s prepare to observe this meteor shower with our article.

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How to see the Quadrantid meteor shower 2024?

The Quadrantids are among the year’s strongest meteor showers. The meteor shower’s activity lasts from December 28 to January 12. At their peak on January 4, the Quadrantids produce around 80 meteors per hour (according to the International Meteor Organization, the number of meteors can even briefly reach 200 per hour).

In 2024, the observing conditions for the Quadrantids are favorable. The meteor shower’s peak aligns with the Last Quarter Moon, which rises around midnight, providing several hours of dark skies for observation.

What time is the Quadrantid meteor shower 2024?

Unlike with other meteor showers, with the Quadrantids, you need to be right on time. All meteor showers have a peak. They’re streams of dust and debris in space that the Earth’s orbit enters and exits, and when it’s in the densest part of a stream, the “peak” of the shooting star activity happens. The Quadrantid stream is dense yet narrow, so its peak is short — just about six hours. In 2024, the peak is expected on January 4, around 13:00 GMT (8:00 a.m. EST), although the actual time may vary. Look for the meteors at least three hours before and after this time to experience the entire peak.

If you miss the peak, don't worry. You can still see up to 25 meteors per hour in the days around January 4. And you may even spot some of the bright fireballs that the Quadrantids are famous for.

Where can I see the Quadrantids?

The Quadrantids are best observable from the Northern Hemisphere. Observers from the Southern Hemisphere will probably see only a few meteors because the Quadrantids’ radiant (in the constellation Bootes) is lower in the southern sky.

You can find out when the radiant of the Quadrantids is highest at your location using the stargazing app Sky Tonight. Just type "Quadrantids" in the search bar, tap on the meteor shower's radiant, and go to the Events tab. The middle time in the Visible Passes section is the time when the radiant reaches the highest point in your sky – it’s the best time to see the meteors.

Find out more useful tips on observing and photographing meteor showers in our colorful infographic.

Meteor Showers: All You Need to Know
Check this infographic to learn interesting facts about meteor showers. Get tips on how to observe and photograph "shooting stars".
See Infographic

What is the Quadrantid meteor shower?

Not so well-known Quadrantids are actually one of the “big three” meteor showers on the planet Earth. The other two you most likely know are the Perseids and the Geminids. In comparison, the hourly rate of meteors for the Perseids is 100; however, the Quadrantids can reach up to 200 meteors per hour. So why are the other two popular every year and the Quadrantids not?

In the Northern Hemisphere, where the meteor shower is well observable, the weather is cold this time of year, so hunting for “shooting stars” is not so comfortable. In the Southern Hemisphere, the Quadrantids are simply hard to see because the maximum altitude of the radiant in the dark is 20° below the horizon.

Meteors of this stream are also much dimmer in comparison to the Perseids or the Geminids. So, despite its high meteor hourly rate, they are less impressive.

What is the source of the Quadrantid meteor shower?

The source of the Quadrantids is unknown. In 2003, astronomer Peter Jenniskens came to the conclusion that the parent body of this meteor shower is the asteroid 2003 EH1. On the other hand, 2003 EH1 might be the same object as the comet C/1490 Y1, which was observed by Chinese, Japanese, and Korean astronomers 500 years ago. If the asteroid is indeed the Quadrantids’ parent body, then this stream is the second major one, together with the Geminids, that comes from a rocky body but not an icy comet.

What does the Quadrantid mean?

All meteor showers take their name after a constellation their radiant point is placed in. But the Quadrantids seem to be the exception because their radiant point is located in the constellation Bootes, near the Big Dipper asterism. So where did this name come from?

This January major meteor shower is named after an old and now unused constellation called Quadrans Muralis. It was a constellation created by the French astronomer Jerome Lalande in 1795. Along with a few other constellations, Quadrans Muralis was removed from the list of modern constellations in 1922. Most of Quadrans Muralis ended up in Bootes, but the Quadrantids kept its name, most likely because there's already a minor shower emanating from Bootes during January — the Bootids.

The Quadrantids 2024: Conclusion

This year’s first great meteor shower, the Quadrantids, reaches its peak on January 4. It will produce around 80 meteors per hour. The peak occurs near the Last Quarter Moon, so our natural satellite won’t cause too much interference. Enjoy the view and prepare for even greater events in 2024.

Wishing you clear skies and happy stargazing!

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