Thursday, 17 January, 2019

First meteor shower of the year peaks Thursday night

Theresa Hayes | 05 January, 2019, 20:47

During its peak in early January, anywhere from 60 to as many as 200 Quadrantid meteors can be seen per hour in flawless conditions. The stellar show is falling during a new moon, meaning the sky is darker and the meteors will be more easily visible. While most meteor showers have two-day peak, Quadrantids only peak for a few hours, so plan accordingly.

We're not even a week into 2019 and already a celestial show is in our midst. That's because the Quadrantids' namesake constellation no longer exists - at least, not as a recognized constellation.

Singapore Science Centre advised stargazers to check the star map as the shower will appear near the constellations Bootes, Ursa Major and Ursa Minor.

He continues by saying that in 2003, an astronomer by the name of Peter Jenniskens "tentatively identified" the parent body of the Quadrantids as rocky-bodied asteroid 2003 EH1, as opposed to an icy comet. Each year, Earth passes through this debris trail for a short time.

To get the best view you'll need to be in the Northern Hemisphere and avoid as much light pollution as possible. Their prominent position in the sky near the Big Dipper means it's easier to catch, but unlike other famous showers these last only a few hours. Make sure you have a chair or blanket so you can look straight up. Lie flat on your back with feet facing northeast and look up at the sky - it should take less than 30 minutes for your eyes to adjust to the dark.

The Quadrantids meteor shower is not the only astronomical event taking place this month.

On January 5 and 6, depending on where you live, a partial solar eclipse will be visible in China, in North and South Korea, in Japan, in Russian Federation, and over the North Pacific Ocean and the Aleutian Islands.