Heads up everyone, the new year is off to a bang with the Quadrantid meteor shower set to peak over the next few days. This celestial display comes every early January and is noted for being particularly short but sweet.
The Quadrantid meteor shower is expected to reach its peak activity on January 3 and 4 in the hours between midnight and dawn. If conditions are favorable, you could see between 60 and 120 meteors every hour. Unfortunately for those of you south of the equator, it will only be viewable from the Northern Hemisphere. Those in North America will get the best view, especially along the west coast, according to Space.com.
The meteors radiate from the north but you will be to see them in all parts of the sky. The dazzling streaks of light that you will see are specks of debris from the asteroid 2003 EH1. Many astronomers believe 2003 EH1 is actually the nucleus fragment from a comet breakup that was observed in Asia during the 1490s. As pieces of the asteroid hit Earth’s upper atmosphere, they burn up and exude a beautiful blueish tail of light.
Like most meteor showers, they are named after the constellation they appear to radiate from, in this case, the location of the former Quadrans Muralis constellation. This constellation, however, no longer exists under the International Astronomical Union’s criteria. In the 1920s, they rewrote the official definitions into 88 constellations and abolished 30 of them, one of which was the Quadrans Muralis.
If you’re in the Southern Hemisphere or it’s particularly cloudy in your area, Slooh is hosting a special live stream of the event with the help of a host of astronomers, science journalists, and experts. Tune in below any time after 8:30 am EST (2 pm GMT) on Tuesday, January 3.
But all you really need to know is stay up late, get away from artificial light, pray for clear skies, stay patient, and enjoy.
Here are eight other reasons to look up to the skies in 2017.