January Meteor Showers – The Quadrantids

   There has been some news noise about viewing the Quadrantid Meteor Shower during the early hours of tomorrow (Monday) morning. But none have mentioned that the Moon also rises at about the same time as the radiant for the meteor shower, and that reflected light from the 24-day old waning crescent Moon will ‘drown’ out many of the dimmer meteors however there should still be several of the brightest of the meteors visible.
   The average hourly rate, ZHR, for this meteor shower ranges from 60 to several hundred so I think there are good odds that some meteors will still be seen despite the interference from moonlight. To maximize the viewing wait until about an hour or so before dawn when the radiant is high above the horizon.
   Even if you do not see any meteors you are at least able to see several of the other planets in the solar system as they are currently arranged along the eclitptic from southeast to southwest at sunrise local time. In dark enough skies with at least binoculars you should be able to catch a glimpse of Comet Catalina (C/2013 US 10). Current estimates have it at somewhere around 5th magnitude.
Boötes the Herdsman
   The radiant is the area from where the meteors seem to radiate outward from. Meteor showers owe their name to the constellation region the radiant is located within and as this graphic shows the radiant is within the boundary of the constellation Boötes the Herdsman. So why the name Quadrantids?

   On some of the older star charts there is a now ‘extinct’ constellation called Quadrans Muralis, the Mural. This was a constellation located between Boötes and Draco the Dragon that was created in 1795 by French Astronomer Jérôme Lalande. The Meteor Shower was named for the no longer used constellation.


Caution: Objects viewed with an optical aid are further than they appear.
Click here to go to the Qué tal in the Current Skies web site for more observing information for this month.

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