Saturday, 3 January 2015

The Quadratid Meteors.

The Quadratid Meteor Shower is one of the brightest meteor showers of the year, often producing over 100 meteors per hour at its peak, which falls on the night of 3-4 January each year, and is predicted to peak at 2.00 am GMT on Sunday 4 January 2015. The meteor shower originates in the constellation of Boötes, which is slightly confusing, as most meteor showers are named for the constellation in which they originate. This is because the constellation was named in the sixteenth century by astronomer Tycho Brahe, before the introduction of standardized constellations used by modern astronomers, though to make matters a little more confusing, Brahe didn't name the meteors this way either; the name comes from the constellation of Quadrans Muralis, introduced by Joseph Jérôme Lefrançois de Lalande in 1795, and dropped by the International Astronomical Union in 1922.

The point of origin for the Quadratid Meteors.

The Quadratid Meteors are unusul in that they typically are only visible for a few hours either side of this peak, whereas other showers are typically visible for days or even weeks. This is thought to be because they orginate from an asteroid (196256) 2003 EH1, rather than the tail of a commet as with most meteor showers. The orbit of this asteroid is tilted at an angle of 71.9° to the plane of the Solar System, so that the Earth only very briefly passes through the debris trail left by it, rather than remaining in it for some time, as is the case with the trail of a comet with an orbit in roughly the same plane as the Earth.

The orbit of (196256) 2003 EH1. JPL Small Body Datebase Browser.

The best time to observe the Quadratid Meteors from anywhere on Earth this year will be between midnight and 2 am local time on Sunday 4 January.

See also...

The Orionid Meteors are a prolific meteor shower appearing in late October each year and peaking on the nights of 21-22 October, when the shower can produce 50-70 meteors per hour, originating in the constellation of Orion (above and to the right of Orion's right...

The Alpha Aurigid Meteor shower occurs each year between 25 August and 6 September, peaking between 11.30 pm GMT on 31 August and 0.30 am GMT on 1 September. However the shower is notoriously hard to observe, having been recorded only in the years 1911, 1929, 1930, 1935, 1979, 1980, 1986, 1994 and 2007 (some of these observations occurred before the...

The Perseid Meteor shower lasts from late July to early September each year, and are expected to be at a peak on 12-13 August 2014, slightly after the Full Moon on 10 August, which may make the meteors harder to spot than when they occur at darker times of the month...

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