Quadrantid Meteor Shower Will Light Up The Skies With Shooting Stars, How To Watch

hero man watching meteor shower
The Quadrantid meteor shower will soon be lighting up the night sky for those with a clear view. This dazzling display of shooting stars will appear to radiate from the Big Dipper asterism, located in the constellation Ursa Major.

While the Quadrantids are active from mid-November through mid-January each year, it is most active during the peak period of January 3-5, 2024. It is one of four major meteor showers throughout the year that has a sharp peak, with the others being the Lyrids, Leonids, and Ursids. Under ideal conditions, the Quadrantids can briefly produce over 100 meteors per hour.

Meteors associated with the Quadrantids often lack persistent trails, but can produce bright fireballs that light up the night sky. The Quadrantids can produce up to 100 meteors per hour, but the average hourly rates most can expect under dark skies will be around 25 per hour. The American Meteor Society predicts that the best time to view the celestial light show from North America will be between the hours of 1-5am.

If onlookers are fortunate enough to have clear skies, the half-lit moon may present another interference. This can be minimized, however, by using a tree or building to block the moonlight. It is also highly suggested to get away from the pollution of city lights as much as possible.

According to NASA, the Quadrantids originate from a meteor, unlike most other meteor showers that originate from a comet. The Quadrantids originate from asteroid 2003 EH1, which takes 5.52 years to orbit the Sun once. Asteroid 2003 EH1 was discovered on March 6, 2003, by the Lowell Observatory Near-Earth Object Search (LONEOS). It is a relatively small asteroid with a diameter of about two miles across. Astronomer and research scientist Peter Jenniskens was the first to realize that 2003 EH1 was the source of the Quadrantid meteors.

Anyone willing to brave the bitter cold conditions to catch a few falling stars from the Quadrantids should take along a sleeping bag, blanket, or a chair. It will be best viewed by lying on one’s back and allowing at least 30 minutes for the eyes to adjust to the darkness. Most of all, be patient and enjoy the show.