Incoming!

If you’re blessed with clear skies tonight (and you’re not too far into the Southern Hemisphere), look for some Quadrantid meteors.

The best observations are actually possible from countries with high northern latitudes, such as Canada, Finland, Sweden, and Norway. The display is virtually nonexistent for observers in the Southern Hemisphere.

The Quadrantids generally begin on December 28 and end on January 7, with maximum generally occurring during the morning hours of January 3/4. The Quadrantids are barely detectable on the beginning and ending dates, but observers in the Northern Hemisphere can see from 10 to around 60 meteors per hour at maximum. The maximum only lasts for a few hours.

Where do meteor showers come from? They can be traced to a parent body, usually a comet. The likely source was only sleuthed out five years ago:

Peter Jenniskens of the NASA Ames Research Center found evidence that Quadrantid meteoroids come from 2003 EH1, an “asteroid” that is probably a piece of a comet that broke apart some 500 years ago. Earth intersects the orbit of 2003 EH1 at a perpendicular angle, which means we quickly move through any debris. That’s why the shower is so brief.

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About catholicsensibility

Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
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