Friday, 3 January 2014

Quadrantid Hunting

The first major meteor shower of the year is on us already, and noticing clearing skies at 2am last night, I wasn't about to miss the opportunity to try and spot a few meteors.

Although the maximum is not actually until, well, now, as I write this - 8pm, 03.01.14 - I figured it was worth seeing if there were any meteors about.

However, unlike the Gemnids, or the Perseids, which have a lot of activity over several days, the Quadrantids have a very sharp maximum which means although the number of meteors can reach the same as with  those two major showers, it is for a far shorter window of time.

Ergo, as I stood outside with a makeshift Pina Colada, I saw exactly one meteor in about 45 minutes, a bright, magnitude -1 specimen that sliced through the head of the celestial snake Hydra.

So, I shall try again tonight, and if you have clear skies, so should you. The Quadrantids, named after a constellation called Quadrans Muralis that was purged after the powers that be decided there was no point in it existing as a separate constellation, are probably best seen after midnight, as the radiant, near the handle of the big dipper, is very low until that time.

Here's hoping for clear skies!

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