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January 3, 2011 AT 12:27 am

2011 Quadrantids meteor shower tonight!

2011 Quadrantids meteor shower tonight!

The Quadrantids is the very first meteor shower of the year, as well as and one of the strongest. The Quadrantids are well known for producing fireballs, meteors that are exceptionally bright and at times produce persistent trails (also known as trains). This annual celestial event is active from January 1st through January 10th and peaks on January 4th. The peak is defined as the moment of maximum activity and the most meteors can be seen by observers.

This year, a New Moon is slated to entirely strip the night sky of any moonlight just eight hours after the predicted maximum, creating perfect circumstances for observers in the northern hemisphere. However, some viewers in the southern hemisphere will still be able to observe the Quadrantids.

The radiant of the Quadrantids, also known as the point from where the meteors appear to come from throughout its peak, is situated within the now extinct constellation named Quadrans Muralis. Current sky maps place the radiant near the constellation named Bootes. To find the location of the radiant, we recommend you find Polaris (a middling-bright star, also known as the north star) and observe near that area.

During the 4th of January, rates will be a portion of what they could be due to the radiant lying low in the northwestern sky . Observers at higher latitudes will have better observing conditions, but will furthermore need to be wary of clouds, as conditions are as a rule cloudy this time of the year.

On average, and under clear skies, observers should see 40 to 60 meteors per hour but every so often these rates can exceed up to 120 meteors per hour in rural locations. In the best conditions, the Quadrantids meteor shower should put on a spectacular viewing experience!


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