Over the recent years, celestial events have become some of the most appreciated and witnessed, as the universe puts a show nobody can win over. During 2011, people across North America could witness some of the most beautiful and intense meteor showers, and the New Year features similar opportunities. The January 4th Quandrantids is a meteor shower you must not miss.
According to specialists, snoozing during 3 to 5 a.m. local times on early Wednesday is not an option. It seems that you’ll be missing out on an amazing event, as Conrad Jung, astronomer at Chabot Space and Science Center in Oakland, says the shower is likely to produce up to 100 falling stars an hour. Plus, the weather should be appropriate to watch such a show in fine conditions.
Weather Channel meteorologist Mark Ressler explains that the weather should pose no difficulties for viewers. Some spots, including the Pacific Northwest, the Great Lakes and parts of the Northeast, could be potentially cloudy, but the show is good enough to take that chance.
Ressler also adds that people in the East part of the U.S. may get to witness a more intense and spectacular shower, because it will go through the densest part of the debris stream first. As stated by the meteorologist, “there should be a meteor every minute or so at the very least”.
The Quandrantids will be coming out of the northern portion of the sky, between the Boötes constellation and the handle of the Big Dipper. According to Bill Cooke, director of NASA’s Meteoroid Environment Office at Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala, the Quads, as astronomers call them, “are one of the more active meteor showers of the year, but they’re not seen by many people”. The reason is not visibility difficulties caused by let’s say weather, but because people don’t want to go outside at that time because it’s very cold.
The Quandrantids have been first noted in 1830s by Adolphe Quetelet of Brussels Observatory. The meteor shower gets its name after the the obsolete constellation Quadrans Muralis the Mural or Wall Quadrant.