How to watch a spectacular meteor shower in the quadrantids this week

This week will see the peak of the Quadrantid meteor shower, which could be the most spectacular meteor shower of 2022. There will be up to 50 meters or more visible per hour when the rain is at its peak. So if you’re in the mood for a night of stargazing, we’ve got the details on how to look.

The shower will peak between January 2-4 and is expected to be visible across the northern hemisphere. Meteor showers like the Quadrantids occur when Earth passes through clouds of debris in its orbit and small particles of such debris enter Earth’s atmosphere. Particles from this week’s shower will travel at tremendous speeds of around 25 miles per second and burn in the atmosphere. As they burn, they glow, creating a trail of light across the sky.

A research map showing the location of the Quadrantid meteor shower radiant.
A research map showing the location of the Quadrantid meteor shower radiant, from Astronomy Now magazine. Astronomy now / Greg Smye-Rumsby

As to why this shower is called the Quadrantids, it takes its name from the now obsolete name of the constellation Quadrans Muralis where the first observations of the shower appeared to be from 1825. The names of the constellations have been approved by the International Astronomical Union in 1922 and did not include Quadrans Muralis, but the name for the meteor shower persisted.

How to watch the Quadrantid meteor shower

According to Nasa, viewers in the United States will have the best view of the shower on the night of January 2 and the morning of January 3. According to Royal Astronomical Society (RAS), UK viewers will get the best view “at 8:40 p.m. GMT on January 3. This is pretty sharply defined, and the number of meteors drops by 50% two hours later. To compensate for this, more meteors tend to be seen when the radiant is higher in the sky, and also in the hours before dawn, so that UK observers can see a decent display throughout the night.

Sometimes the moon can interfere with the view of a downpour if it is very bright, but the RAS says that shouldn’t be a problem for that downpour: and there will be a real benefit to watching the meteor shower under a dark sky. , far from city lights. “

And when it comes to how to watch the shower, the good news is, you don’t need binoculars, telescopes, or special equipment. Go out right after dark and look up. “Unlike many astronomical events, meteor showers are easy to observe and no special equipment is needed,” writes RAS. “A meteor shower is best seen with the naked eye, and a reclining chair, a warm blanket, and a hot drink make viewing much more comfortable on a cold January night.”

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