After the fireworks from New Year’s Eve a few nights ago, people around the world will be able to experience the first major meteor shower tonight, as the Quadrantid meteor shower is expected to peak tonight from Wednesday night through Thursday morning. However, this spectacular event will be challenging to observe due to the effect of the super Wolf Moon’s brightness that will shine in the night sky on Jan. 3.
The Quadrantids are expected to be visible more throughout the Northern hemisphere on Wednesday through Thursday morning. Still, the exact time that will be perfect for observing the shower is debatable. Most of the previous years we managed to enjoy a rich hourly rate of 500-100 meteors per hour. However, EarthSky says that this year will be different, which may disappoint astronomy lovers that want to enjoy the event. According to EarthSky, NASA predicts an hourly rate of up to 40 meteors per hour. Additionally, the brightest meteors that streak across the sky will be washed out as a result of the light of the Wolf Moon.
Meteor showers are mostly named after the constellations that they appear to be coming from. For example, the Leonid meteor shower, which peaked in Nov. 2017 is named after the constellation Leo, while the Geminids that peaked one month ago were named after Gemini. On the other hand, the Quadrantids that will peak tonight are named after a constellation that is obsolete. Though meteors appear to fall from the constellations that they are named after, those constellations are not the real source of the meteors. The source of the Quadrantid meteor shower is believed to be from the asteroid 2003 EH1. It’s worth mentioning that the source of the vast majority of meteor showers that we see throughout the year are from comets. Meteor showers are usually formed by the dust left behind the comet or asteroid through Earth’s orbit, according to Space.com. Still, 2003 EH1 could have been a comet a long time ago, but the ice and other parts have since evaporated.
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Even though there are less meteors to expect to see across the night sky this year, the observation process is the same. People who want to watch this event should grab a cozy blanket and get away from the city, somewhere where the sky is less polluted by light. It will take time for your eyes to adjust to the darkness for about 30 minutes.
Also, make sure to check the weather forecast, especially if you live in the north or northeast where the weather is colder and consider taking several jackets or coats in order to keep yourself warm.