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The Quadrantids meteor shower 2011 - peaks Jan 3/4

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posted on Dec, 25 2010 @ 02:22 PM
The annual Quadrantids meteor shower is predicted to peak at 01 UT(GMT) on the 4th of January, and this year the shower will be free from interference from the Moon, making this a great opportunity to observe one of the most (if not the most) active meteor showers of the year. In a good year rates can reach as high as 200 meteors every hour at peak, if you find somewhere free from light pollution to observe from, that also has good all round views, and you use proper observing techniques.

This will be the last major meteor shower for quite a while that occurs under a dark, moon-free sky, so be sure to observe this time round.

This year's shower timing is ideally suited to observers in the UK, but wherever you are in the Northern hemisphere you should be able to catch a good show if you observe close to the peak time from a dark sky. Unfortunately, this shower does not produce high rates for those in the Southern hemisphere, although some can be seen if you are not too far South. Of course, for you to see any, the Quadrantid radiant must have risen above the horizon, and with the Quarantids, the Radiant lies above the horizon as soon as it gets dark (and indeed before, while it's still light), so they can be seen earlier on in the evening, although rates will usually increase throughout the night, all the way up till dawn as the radiant climbs higher in the sky.

As most of you will know, meteors are caused by small particles ejected from comets, which as they collide with our atmosphere, cause the air around them to glow brightly, giving us the streaks of light that we call meteors. Although most meteors that are observed visually are caused by very small sand grain sized particles, larger meteoroids (as they are known when they are out in space) can produce bright meteors known as fireballs, which can sometimes rival the brightness of a full moon. Even these larger meteoroids completely disintegrate in our atmosphere long before they reach the ground, although it's not uncommon for people to misjudge the altitude and report bright meteors as being very close to the ground!

The Quadrantids enter Earth's atmosphere at a velocity of 41 km/s, which is neither fast nor slow, but about average for natural meteors. They appear to travel away (or "radiate") from a small area of sky that is close to the celestial north pole, and just under the "Big Dipper".

Click here for a diagram showing the location of the radiant during the Quadrantids peak.

Remember, not all meteors you will see will be Quadrantids, but by paying careful attention to the direction of travel, you should be able to tell which meteors are likely to be in most cases.

Good luck, and clear skies!

Related Links

2011 predictions
Society for Popular Astronomy
British Astronomical Association

Quadrantid shower info, history, and observations
The Quadrantids meteor shower 2010 ATS thread
Previous year's ZHR graphs

Basic visual meteor shower observation techniques
How to Observe Meteor Showers
How to View Meteor Showers - How to "See More Meteors"

This great video covers almost everything, but I would argue on a few points that were mentioned:

1. It's usually better to be totally flat when observing meteors since you can catch meteors close to any horizon with your peripheral vision when facing directly upwards.

2. If you live in a warm/tropical climate, you might get away with a blanket (or even less) to keep you warm, but I'd advise putting on multiple layers of warm cloths, and jumping into a sleeping bag if you want to observe for any length of time if you live away from the equator. If you are too warm (unlikely in most cases) then you can always remove a layer of cloths or two.

3. The camera exposure times he mentioned could be at the upper end of the scale if you have any light pollution at you're site and/or depending on your equipment/settings/how you want your photo to appear. It's worth experimenting before hand, but if you are using fast lenses/high ISOs (which you should be if you want to catch any meteors, although you may get lucky and catch a bright meteor anyway), exposures can be as short as 5 or 10 seconds. See links below for more info.

Advanced visual meteor shower observation techniques

Photographing meteors

General information

Organizations and mailing lists

edit on 25-12-2010 by C.H.U.D. because: typos/fixed links

posted on Dec, 25 2010 @ 02:35 PM
i've heard also there is a solar eclipse on that date.

2nd line

posted on Dec, 25 2010 @ 04:11 PM

Originally posted by orangutang
i've heard also there is a solar eclipse on that date.

2nd line

Yes, you are correct orangutang. Thanks for pointing that out

A note to UK observers - For a clear view of the eclipse, you want an unobstructed view to the SE, as the eclipse will already be well underway at sun-rise as viewed from the UK, and anything blocking the horizon to the SE may cause you to miss what is left.

posted on Dec, 26 2010 @ 06:04 PM
Whatever came came to the earth is still coming around it seems.
This is Newtonian physics of course.
Is there anything in recorded history that places the original cosmic event
at this time of year.
Sounds like a case for Velikovsky.

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