Quadrantid meteor shower to light up sky over New Year's weekend

Edited By: Vyomica Berry WION Web Team
Washington, United States Published: Dec 31, 2020, 05:37 PM(IST)

Quadrantid meteor shower in the Northern Hemisphere Photograph:( Twitter )

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During its peak, 60 to as many as 200 Quadrantid meteors can be seen per hour under perfect conditions

Quadrantids meteor showers will illuminate the night sky over the New Year weekend with up to 200 shooting stars every hour. 

As per the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the Quadrantids meteor shower is described as one of the best annual meteor showers.

During its peak, 60 to as many as 200 Quadrantid meteors can be seen per hour under perfect conditions.

According to the International Meteor Organisation (IMO), the peak is expected to occur at around 14:30 GMT on Sunday, January 3. 

The Quadrantids are known for their bright fireball meteors and are unique because they originate from an asteroid, instead of a comet. The fireballs are explosions of light and colour and last longer than the normal meteor streak. 

The annual meteor shower runs every year between December 28 and January 12, but in 2021 the best views in the UK will be after dark on January 2 and 3. It is expected to peak Friday night into Saturday morning. 

Meteors are pieces of rocky debris that enter the Earth's atmosphere at up to 40 miles per second, leaving streaks of light that we refer to as 'shooting stars'. 

The Quadrantids are best viewed in the Northern Hemisphere (this shower can also be seen at latitudes north of 51 degrees south) during the night and predawn hours. 

The American Meteor Society has suggested the viewers start the gaze an hour before the peak timings in case the show starts early. To get a good view, avoid daylights and find a darker location. 

Their radiant—the point in the sky from which the Quadrantids appear to come from -- is an obsolete constellation called "Quadrans Muralis." French astronomer Jerome Lalande created this constellation in 1795. 

Unlike most meteor showers which originate from comets, the Quadrantids originate from an asteroid: asteroid 2003 EH1. Asteroid 2003 EH1 takes 5.52 years to orbit the sun once. It is possible that 2003 EH is a "dead comet" or a new kind of object being discussed by astronomers called a "rock comet."

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