Quadrantid meteor shower reaches short peak

  • A Quadrantid meteor streaks across the sky Jan. 4, 2012.
A Quadrantid meteor streaks across the sky Jan. 4, 2012. (Donovan Shortey / Flickr )
January 03, 2013|By Scott Dance, The Baltimore Sun

The Quadrantid meteors, less well known than other meteor showers but a decent show for the Northern Hemisphere, reached their narrow peak early Thursday morning. There is a chance more could be seen before dawn Friday.

The shower actually peaked around 8 a.m. Eastern Standard Time and only lasts for a few hours, according to NASA.

The shower is named for the former constellation from which it appears to radiate, Quadrans Muralis. The constellation was not included in an International Astronomical Union official list of constellations in 1922, as EarthSky.org explains.

The Quadrantids generate as many as 50 to 100 meteors per hour at their peak, which at only a day or two long is much shorter than other meteor showers.

The waning gibbous moon's brightness could block many smaller meteors from view, however.

If you want to watch them from the comfort of your home, NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., will broadcast a live stream tonight if meteors can be seen. Check NASA's Quadrantids webpage for the video.

If you missed out on the Quadrantids, you can also spot Saturn and Venus while you are out studying the pre-dawn skies. Saturn will rise alongside the crescent moon this weekend, while Venus will do the same closer to Jan. 10, both in the southeastern sky.

Want to plan out your whole year of skywatching? Bookmark this recent blog post on celestial events to check out in 2013.

Have a weather question? E-mail me at sdance@baltsun.com or tweet to @MdWeather.

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