Bundle up warmly and head on outside between 1AM and 5AM Wednesday January 04 2012! The annual Quadratid Meteor shower promises to be a great show this year. This shower, although much briefer than some of its more famous cousins like the Leonids and Perceids, this one is bold and loud. Predictions range from 60 to 200 meteor streaks per hour during peak. Even the average of 120/hr yields a breathtraking 2 streaks per minute! WOWZERS!
Here are a few factoids and tips for watching:
1. BUNDLE UP! According to AccuWeather.com, Tuesday night/Wednesday morning is going to be bone-chillingly cold! Low temps are to be around 13oF. However, Weather.org claims it'll be serious Three Dog Night at only 9oF! Yes, that's cold enough to freeze your coffee and your little toes. So, be prepared! Lots of proverbial layers and a few "heat packs" wouldn't hurt.
2. The peak hour is expected to be 2-3AM. However, the waxing gibbous moon (what the heck is it waxing?) won't set till right around 3AM. The Moon's light will inhibit some viewing in areas where optimal conditions (See #3) don't exist.
3. Optimal Viewing? Find a spot away from bright lights. The darker the area, the better. Make it a family adventure. Pack a warm drink and several dozen good buffalo wings and head out to a park or secluded area.
4. The shower’s radiant (its apparent perspective point of origin) is in the not-well-known constellation Quadrans Muralis about halfway from the end of the Big Dipper handle to the head of Draco, as shown above. Quadrans Muralis is not one of the "modern" 88 constellations recognized by the IUA; it's an older However, if you aren't in my Astrology class, who'd know where the heck Draco is? So, I look for both Dippers; Big and Little. Make an imaginary line between them and then complete an imaginary equilateral triangle downwards so the third vertx is UNDER the Dippers. That 3rd vertex is the radiant. It’s fairly high up in the northeast after about 1 AM 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.
5. The Quads are the result of an asteroid, not specifically from a comet like most other showers; Asteroid 2003 EH1.
So, bundle up and lead out to a dark place and have some fun with this! Next major metweor shower isn't till April's Lyrids.