Clouds May Obscure Views of Quadrantids Meteor Shower

The first meteor shower of 2013 peaks early Thursday.

Don't blink, you might miss the first meteor shower of the year.

The high-powered Quadrantids meteor shower should peak just before dawn Thursday with a maximum number of meteors per hour of about 80.

The meteor shower is expected to "last only a few hours," according to NASA.com.

The meteors are believed to be a piece comet that broke apart centuries ago. The fragments will enter the Earth's atmosphere at 90,000 mph, burning up 50 miles above Earth's surface, according to NASA.

High clouds associated with a system approaching the Pacific Northwest overnight may hamper viewing of the meteor shower with a partly cloudy forecast and a temperature low of 29 in the Sammamish-Issaquah area, according to the National Weather Service. Forecasters there say the best viewing times will be between 4-5 a.m. Thursday.

If clouds don't obscure the meteor shower, the glowing moon may outshine it. The meteor shower is peaking while the moon is in its bright gibbous phase, according to Space.com.

Viewing tips from NASA:

  • To view Quadrantids, go outside and allow your eyes 30-45 minutes to adjust to the dark.
  • Look straight up, allowing your eyes to take in as much of the sky as possible.
  • You will need cloudless, dark skies away from city lights to see the shower.

Like most meteor showers, Quadrantids is named for the constellation from which it appears to radiate. However, Quadrantids' constellation no longer exists. The constellation Quadrans Muralis, or Mural Quadrant, was created by the French astronomer Jerome Lalande in 1795 and was located between the constellations of Bootes the Herdsman and Draco the Dragon.

When the International Astronomical Union devised a list 88 modern constellations in 1922, it did not include Quadrans Muralis. So the meteor shower retained its name, though the constellation was rendered obsolete.

These days, Quadrantids radiates from an area inside the constellation Boötes, near the Big Dipper.

If the weather doesn't cooperate, you can watch a Ustream feed of the meteor shower on Jan. 2-4 on NASA.com.

jan holmes January 03, 2013 at 03:19 PM
Saw 5 at 6:50-7:05 am and the international space station, pictures did not turn out.... THANKS for alerting us.....
Jeanne Gustafson January 03, 2013 at 03:31 PM
I'm glad you got to see it, Jan, and thanks for trying to get some snaps!


More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something
See more »