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The first meteor shower in 2021 will illuminate the night sky on New Year's weekend

The first meteor shower in 2021 will illuminate the night sky on New Year’s weekend

Between once in a lifetime The culprit And saga Meet Jupiter and Saturn For the great conjunction, 2020 was a year full of celestial phenomena. But the year 2021 starts out strong with the quadruple meteor shower peak NASA Called the “best annual meteor showers” this weekend, from Saturday January 2nd to Sunday January 3rd.

What are the quadrants?

According to NASA, the Quadrant She returns every year between December 28 and January 12. First seen in 1825, it originated from the small asteroid 1003 EH1, which the Lowell Observatory discovered to search for near-Earth objects in March 2003.

Meteors appear to be radiating from a constellation called Quadrans Muralis, which is no longer there. However, this constellation is not the actual source of meteors.

“The alternative name for Quadrantids is Bootids, as meteors appear to radiate from the modern constellation Bootes,” NASA says. “Although the constellation can no longer be recognized, it was considered a constellation long enough to give the meteor its name.”

The Quadrantids represent the last meteor showers of the season, several months earlier with little celestial activity at the start of the new year. according to American Meteor Society, It will likely be one of the strongest rains of the year, along with the Perseids and Geminids.

During the short window from Saturday night to Sunday morning, there is an opportunity to spot between 60 to 200 meteors per hour moving at 25.5 miles per second. Quadrant meteorites are known for their bright fireball meteors, which are larger bursts of color and light that last longer than the average meteorite streak.

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Despite the shower possibilities, it will be short: the window of maximum activity is only six hours.

“The reason for the short peak is due to the gentle flow of particles in the shower and the fact that the Earth crosses the current at a perpendicular angle,” NASA says.

Quadrantidas 30estelasdlopez1024.jpg
About 30 quadrant meteors can be counted in this celestial scene composed of digital frames recorded in a dark, moonless sky between 2:30 a.m. and the local dawn.

Daniel Lopez / NASA APOD

How to watch a quadruple meteor shower

The Northern Hemisphere is the best place to view the Quadrantids, but bad weather conditions in early January make viewing even more difficult. Even if the sky is clear of clouds, a nearly perfect convex moon continues to shine through the weekends, making meteor spotting difficult.

Unlike many other common meteor showers, which peak over several nights, timing your tetrapods is essential for detecting meteors. according to Meteor International Organization, The peak is expected to occur around 14:30 UTC on Sunday – which means the best chance to witness the shower in North America will be in the dawn hours of Sunday morning.

Like all meteor showers, you’ll need to stay away from the bright city lights to get the best viewing conditions, lie on your back and give your eyes about 30 minutes to adjust to the dark. Wear winter clothes and be patient – the show will run until dawn.

After the Quadrantids, no more meteor shower will happen for more than three months, when Lyrids and Eta Aquariids return in April.