The quadruple meteor shower is at its zenith, and North American skywatchers have a good chance of seeing the tail end of the show tonight.
This annual meteorite typically peaks between January 3 and January 4 each year. I submitted this year so far Less than ideal views for sky watchers, Given that the moon was 81% full overnight on January 3rd. The quaternary meteorites are rather faint, so moonlight can easily wash them off. However, the moon is diminishing, so January 4 may allow for better meteorite monitoring, if at a lower rate than it was during the January 3 peak.
To see the quadruple, find a dark spot with minimal light pollution. Beat moonrise or wait until after the moon has set if you can. Wear warm clothes and allow your eyes to adjust to the dark for 15 or 20 minutes. Meteors appear to emanate from the constellation Boötes. To find this constellation, first look for the Big Dipper in the northern sky. Then follow the Big Dipper’s handle to the shining star Arcturus, which anchors the bottom of Boötes. The constellation looks like a deformed kite with a short tail. You can find out when this constellation («radiant» meteor shower) will be above the horizon by entering your location in Time and date meteor shower page.
During its climax, which lasts only a few hours, a quadruple shower can produce about 120 meteors an hour. At off-peak times, viewers may still see around 25 meteors per hour.
Quadrantids are a volley of space dust and rocks from the asteroid 2003 EH1, which is likely an extinct comet that has lost its long icy tail. Meteorites got their name from the name of a constellation that does not exist now, Quadran Morales, a four-sided figure dreamed of by astronomer Jerome Lallande in 1795. In 1922, when the International Astronomical Union compiled a list of internationally recognized constellations, they discontinued Laland’s invention in favor of Boötes, Which had a longer history (it was recognized in ancient Greece and in ancient Babylon). The name of the meteor shower associated with Quadrans Muralis has not changed, although Quadrantids are sometimes known as Bootids.
After the quadruple, the next best chance of spotting meteorites will come with Lyrids, which occurs in mid-April. This year, it will likely be the best watch in Hours before dawn on April 22According to EarthSky Magazine.
Originally published on Live Science.