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Quadrantids wows with dozens of meteors visible per hour

Leeanna McLean
Digital Reporter

Monday, January 4, 2016, 9:37 AM - Stargazers in North America were treated to upwards of 80 shooting stars per hour pre-dawn Monday, as the first meteor shower of the new year peaked around 3 a.m. local time.

The Quadrantids occur every January around this time, however, there is a bit of a catch, explains The Weather Network meteorologist and science writer Scott Sutherland.

Position of the Quadrantids radiant early in the morning of January 4, 2016. Credit: Stellarium/S.Sutherland

"Unlike other meteor showers that tend to give at least a decent showing in the days before and after the peak, the Quadrantids peak is apparently very sharp. Thus, the night of January 3-4 is definitely the time to see this, and with the exact timing, it may be so sharp as to give Europe a slightly better show than North America," says Sutherland.

RELATED: Five amazing night sky events for winter stargazers

Overall, this meteor shower averages out around 120 meteors per hour under ideal conditions, which means under a very clear and dark sky. The best place to view the Quadrantids is in the countryside, but those looking to the northeast sky in suburban areas may have seen anywhere between 30 to 60 shooting stars per hour.

This year's shower was expected to be a great one because the moon is a crescent this week, meaning its light won't compete with the meteors.

Unfortunately, a lot of eastern Canada was clouded over during its peak. However, variable skies were forecast for most of the Prairies, with the exception of increasing cloud cover for central Saskatchewan and southern Alberta

If your area was clouded over Sunday evening, some shooting stars may be visible Monday night. Or better yet, watch the meteor shower from anywhere on Earth by tuning into the public show (above) hosted by the Slooh Community Observatory, which replays the entire event.

The Quadrantids originate from an object know as 2003 EH1, an asteroid somewhere between 2.6-4.0 km wide, which is believed to be an "extinct comet" - what is left over after a comet loses most or all of its ice and volatile gases.

The shooting stars occur as Earth crosses through the asteroid's debris tail.

Missed the show? Images of the meteors are starting to show up on social media. Here is a great example of one taken by Theresa and Darlene Tanner, from Alberta, early on Monday morning.

Source: The Weather Network | Slooh

Watch more: Science behind meteors

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