2017’s Quadrantid meteor show should offer a real spectacle as it one of the most intense such sky spectacles and is set to peak on January 03.
The night sky is a spectacle in itself. Its multitude of stars and far away lights has long since fascinated humanity. Still, there are certain events which turn even more eyes up to the sky.
One such event are the meteorite showers. The Orionids and Perseids have another relative, the Quadrantid. Considered as one of the most intense such annual showers, it will be taking place these days.
The International Meteor Organization, as well as other similar forecasters, have pointed out the night sky event. On January 03, Earth is set to pass through a comet’s debris stream.
This passing should lead to the meteor shower known as the Quadrantids. It is a phenomenon which takes place in January.
Although its ZHR is quite as rich as that of the Geminids or Perseids, it is more elusive. A ZHR is a zenithal hourly rate. This latter is a sort of astronomical measures.
It represents the number of meteors that can be observed by a single person. The rate is calculated for the hour in which the respective shower is at its peak activity.
The Quadrantid meteor shower has a very sharp peak intensity. Records show that this sometimes lasts only several hours. As such, it cannot be compared to the Perseids, for example. This latter has an approximated two days long peak period.
Quadrantids have a radiant point very near to the Big Dipper. A radiant point marks a meteorite shower’s apparent place of origin.
As such, the area is known to have produced over 100 meteorites per hour during a peak period. This latter period could be as short as just an hour. Furthermore, Quadrantids peak periods do not always follow the forecasted time.
As it is, observers are encouraged to be alert throughout January 03’s dark hours, if they mean to catch the meteors shower.
In 2017, the January shower timing is expected to be best seen in the western parts of North America. The Pacific situated islands are also expected to have a good view of the event.
Their peak period is believed to happen about 10 AM ET or 1500 UTC. Brevity and the weather account for the Quadrantids’ being less observed. They are both quite short and also take place when winter is in full swing in the northern hemisphere.
However, the Quadrantid meteor shower is quite famous for its fireballs. It has a reputation of producing quite a remarkable such phenomenon.
Besides their memorable visual nature, these fireballs also determine a scientific interest. Observations on the event can be submitted by any person willing to participate. The citizen science effort is available for any such remarks.
A free app has also been developed. “Fireballs in the Sky” has been created so as to facilitate the report of such observations. It was developed by the Curtin University in collaboration with NASA.
The Quadrantid meteor shower also had a harder to establish origin. Its exact source was quite unknown until 2003. In December that year, a researcher found evidence as to its appearance.
Peter Jenniskens from the NASA Ames Research Center found an explanation. According to him, the Quadrantids originate from 2003 EH1.
This latter is considered to be the remaining piece of a comet. The “asteroid” is believed to have broken apart from its source about 500 years ago.
As Earth intersects this comet debris, it gives birth to the meteorite shower. However, Earth passes 2003 EH1 at what is believed to be a perpendicular angle.
As such, it moves quickly through the debris. This may account for the phenomenon’s short duration.
The Quadrantids also take their name after an obsolete constellation. They were titled after the Quadrans Muralis. This constellation was situated close to Bootes. Nowadays, the latter is considered to be their radiant point.
As its namesake was removed from star maps, the meteorite shower retained its original name.
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