Quadrantid Meteor Shower 2019

Quadrantid Meteor Shower 2019

02/01/2019Written by Tamela Maciel

In 2019, the Quadrantid meteor shower peaks on the 3-4 January, with up to 40 meteors per hour.

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Quadrantids

Quadrantids
Credit: Juan Carlos Casado, Starry Earth

This week, the Quadrantids peak on the night of the 3-4 January 2019. This above-average meteor shower produces up to 40 meteors an hour.

The cause of the Quadrantids is a bit of a mystery, but it’s thought that the asteroid 2003 EH1 is the source of the debris. If so, then the Quadrantids are similar to last month’s Geminids, which are also produced by a rocky body instead of the usual icy comet. How asteroids leave behind such a debris trail is still uncertain.

Nevertheless the debris is there and as it hits Earth’s atmosphere at high speed, it heats up and disintegrates in flashes of light that we call meteors.

The Quadrantids typically produce up to 40 meteors an hour, and luckily this year the thin crescent Moon will set mid-afternoon, leaving the sky dark and perfect for spotting meteors. Scan the sky anytime between midnight and dawn on the night of the 3-4 January.

How to Watch

Adapted from Stellarium

Adapted from Stellarium

The Quadrantids are named after a historic constellation called Quadrans Muralis as this is the direction from which they appear to originate. But Quadrans Muralis no longer exists as one of the 88 official constellations. Now the radiant point is best found by looking near the handle of the Plough and the bright star Arcturus.

While the meteors appear to originate from near the Plough, they are best seen 30 degrees away from origin, so be sure to keep careful watch across the whole sky.

To view the Quadrantids from the UK, head outside anytime between midnight and dawn.

Look up, keep an eye on the whole sky, and find a location as far from city lights as you can.

The Quadrantids are active annually between 1-5 January, but tend to have a very narrow peak time. So be sure to try to catch them on the night of the 3-4 January.

Adapted from Stellarium

Meteor Infographic

Meteor Infographic
Credit: National Space Centre

Download our National Space Centre Meteor Shower Guide to make sure you are fully prepared to watch the Quadrantids!

Other upcoming meteor showers for 2019 include:

Lyrids

Comet of Origin: Thatcher
Radiant: constellation Lyra
Peak Activity: 22-23 April 2019
Peak Activity Meteor Count: 10-20 meteors per hour
Notes: Strong moonlight may interfere this year.

Eta Aquarids

Comet of Origin: Halley
Radiant: constellation Aquarius
Peak Activity: 5-7 May 2019
Peak Activity Meteor Count: 20-60 meteors per hour

Delta Aquarids

Comet of Origin: 96P/Machholz
Radiant: constellation Aquarius
Peak Activity: 27-30 July 2019
Peak Activity Meteor Count: 20 meteors per hour

Perseids

Comet of Origin: 109P/Swift-Tuttle
Radiant: constellation Perseus
Peak Activity: 12-13 Aug 2019
Peak Activity Meteor Count: 90 meteors per hour
Notes: Strong moonlight may interfere this year.

Orionids

Comet of Origin: Halley
Radiant: constellation Orion
Peak Activity: 21 Oct 2019
Peak Activity Meteor Count: 10-20 meteors per hour
Notes: Some moonlight may interfere this year.

Taurids

Comet of Origin: 2P/Encke
Radiant: constellation Taurus
Peak Activity: 4-5 Nov 2019
Peak Activity Meteor Count: 10-20 meteors per hour

Leonids

Comet of Origin: 55P/Tempel-Tuttle
Radiant: constellation Leo
Peak Activity: 17-18 Nov 2019
Peak Activity Meteor Count: 10-20 meteors per hour
Notes: Some moonlight may interfere this year.

Geminids

Comet of Origin: 3200 Phaethon
Radiant: constellation Gemini
Peak Activity: Dec. 13-14, 2019
Peak Activity Meteor Count: 120 meteors per hour
Notes: Strong moonlight may interfere this year.

Ursids

Comet of Origin: 8P/Tuttle
Radiant: constellation Ursa Minor
Peak Activity: Dec. 21-22, 2019
Peak Activity Meteor Count: 10 meteors per hour

Clear skies!

About the author: Dr Tamela Maciel is the Space Communications Manager at the National Space Centre.

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