The Quadrantids meteor shower will be peaking in the very early morning hours of January 3, 2013. The meteor shower, named after an extinct constellation, are expected to reach a peak rate of around 80 meteors an hour.
There will be some moon light present though, so that will cut down somewhat on the number of meteors visible. Unlike many other meteor showers, the Quadrantids only last for a few hours, the early hours of January the 3rd is the only time to see them. And because of the location that they radiate from — the northern tip of Bootes the Herdsman – the shower is only visible from latitudes north of 51 degrees.
It’s currently thought that the Quadrantids originate from the same asteroid as the Geminids do –2003 EH1. The Quadrantids owe their name to the constellation known as Quadrans Muralis, though the constellation is no longer used by astronomers its name persists in the Quadrantids.
For more information on the Quadrantids, and all of the other meteor showers of the year, and their dates and times, see Meteor Showers 2013, Dates And Times
Some quick background:
“The Quadrantids (QUA) are an easily visible January meteor shower. The radiant of this shower is an area inside the constellation Boötes. It lies between the end of the handle of the Big Dipper and the quadrilateral of stars marking the head of the constellation Draco. Adolphe Quetelet of the Brussels Observatory discovered the shower in the 1830s, and shortly afterward it was noted by several other astronomers in Europe and America.”
“The peak intensity is exceedingly sharp: the meteor rates exceed one-half of their highest value for only about 8 hours (compared to two days for the August Perseids). This means that the stream of particles that produces this shower is narrow – and apparently deriving from and within the last 500 years from some orbiting body.”
Image Credits: Quadrans Muralis via Wikimedia Commons