Quadrantid Meteor Shower
I suppose there will be a few people out howling at the moon next Monday night. It is, of course, New Year’s Eve. Whether you go out howling at the moon or not, be on the lookout for falling stars over the next few days.
That is because the The Quadrantid meteor shower will run from about January 1-5. This year’s peak is expected to occur on the evening of Thursday January 3 until dawn Friday the 4th, with perhaps upwards of 40 meteors visible per hour.
The Quadrantid meteor shower gets its name from Quadrans Muralis a no longer officially recognized constellation of the International Astronomical Union. The constellation was or is located near Hercules and Bootes. They did, however, keep the name associated with the meteor shower rather than rename it.
The best viewing of the Quadrantids will be after midnight. Look toward the northern horizon. A waxing gibbous moon, however, is going to interfere with visibility, particularly for the fainter meteors. The Quadrantids are generally considered to be an “above average” meteor shower. As such, I suspect it is a big hit with the children in Lake Wobegon.
Although the Quadrantids may be an above average meteor shower, they do not last long and are not usually well observed. Some of the lack of observations is because of the winter cold or overcast skies. But this meteor belt is apparently perpendicular to the earth’s orbit, so the earth moves through the belt rather quickly.
If the skies are clear and temperatures moderate, it might also be a good time to learn a winter constellation or two. If you seldom take the time to view the winter sky, do yourself a favor and spend a few minutes star gazing. It really is amazing how clear the sky can be during these winter evenings, and there are several winter constellations that are quite easy to observe. Find a star chart and begin with the constellation Orion. Orion is one of the easiest winter constellations to pick out in the winter sky. From there you might proceed to find Taurus the Bull, Lepus the hare, Procyon, Canis Major, Canis Minor, and Columba the Dove.
This is the last Natural North Dakota for 2012 so I would like to take this time to relay my hope that you have had a happy holiday season and also wish you and you’re a Happy New Year.
Natural North Dakota is supported by NDSU Central Grasslands Research Extension Center and Minot State University-Bottineau, and by the members of Prairie Public. Thanks to Sunny 101.9 in Bottineau for their recording services.
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