The first Meteor shower of 2013 peaks tonight, January 2 into the morning hours of January 3.
Tonight between 3 a.m. and dawn, your local time, you’ll be able to witness the best peak time of the 2013 Quadrantid meteor shower. The maximum rate will be about 120 meteors per hour. Those who can brave the cold, could see up to 40 meteors per hour.
For those who don’t want to brave the cold January air, NASA plans on doing a live Ustream (watch below) of the Quadrantid shower with a camera mounted at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama.
The meteor shower is named for the outdated Quadrans constellation, which is no longer recognized by astronomers, NASA officials said.
Where do the Quadrantids come from? NASA explains that like the Geminids, the Quadrantids originate from an asteroid, called 2003 EH1. Studies suggest that it could be a piece of a comet which broke apart several centuries ago, and that the meteors you will see before dawn are the small debris from this fragmentation. After hundreds of years orbiting the sun, they will enter into our atmosphere at 90,000 mph, burning up 50 miles above Earth’s surface.
Some locations may have problems being able to see the shower with the moon being in its bright gibbous phase and just days after the full moon on December 28. Jim Todd, planetarium manager at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry says not to let that stop you from going out seeing the first meteor shower of the new year. “While the glare of the waning moon will mute the display somewhat, don’t let that stop you from stepping outside, as intense activity is limited to only six hours,” he says.
There will be no need for binoculars or telescopes to catch the 2013 Quadrantid meteor shower according to Geza Gyuk, astronomer with the Adler Planetarium in Chicago. He says, “Early Thursday morning find a site with a clear northern horizon where the shower appears to radiate out from—just off the handle of the Big Dipper—and bundle up and bring a friend. A meteor shared is a meteor squared. One gets so much more pleasure when one can compare notes, gripes, and wonder!”
According to NASA the best way to view the Quadrantids, go outside and allow your eyes 30-45 minutes to adjust to the dark. Look straight up, allowing your eyes to take in as much of the sky as possible. You will need cloudless, dark skies away from city lights to see the shower.
Quadrantids Meteor Shower Live
Watch the Quadrantids Meteor Shower live online for free from a camera mounted at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama.