How to watch the Quadrantids, the first meteor shower of the year

January begins with the Quadrantids, one of the fastest but most powerful meteor showers of the year.

The peak of the shower is expected overnight between January 3 and 4 American Meteor Society. Sky watchers in the Northern Hemisphere can expect to see the shower late Wednesday night and early Thursday morning.

Meteors are the remnants of broken asteroids and comet particles that orbit the Sun on dusty paths. Every year, Earth passes through debris trails, and fragments of dust and rock create colorful, fiery displays called meteor showers when they break up in Earth's atmosphere.

The Quadrantid shower is quite difficult to observe due to its short peak of six hours. The peak has a limited duration compared to most meteor showers, which peak within two days, because the shower has only a thin stream of particles and the Earth passes through the densest concentration of these particles quickly at a perpendicular angle. NASA.

The shower's peak is forecast to range from 4 a.m. to 10 a.m. ET (9 a.m. to 3 p.m. ET), but meteors will be visible several hours earlier. The Recommended by the American Meteor Society Meteor tracking from 1am to 5am local time for North America residents.

Earlier times favor those near the East Coast of North America, while later times are more favorable for observers in Hawaii and Alaska. Squares are usually not visible in the Southern Hemisphere because the radiant point of rain does not rise in its sky until dawn.

you Time and date site To see what the chances are of your event being seen.

what you will see

A peak may contain more than 100 visible meteors per hour. According to NASA, you may even see a few fireballs during the meteor shower, which are bright bursts of light and color associated with larger particles that hang around longer than typical meteor streaks.

Keep an eye on the north-northeast sky. Stand or sit on your back to the moon starting at 2 a.m. local time and scan the sky for at least an hour, the American Meteor Society recommends.

Visibility will depend on any winter weather in the Northern Hemisphere. And the moon will be about 51 percent full, which could affect shower visibility, but the community recommends blocking the moon with a tree or building.

If you live in an urban area, you may want to drive to a location that is not flooded with bright city lights. If you can find an area without light pollution, meteors may be visible every few minutes from late evening until dawn.

Find an open spot with a wide view of the sky. Make sure you have a chair or blanket so you can look up. And give your eyes about 20 to 30 minutes to adjust to the darkness — without looking at your phone — so the meteors will be easier to spot.

An unusual origin

If the name of the meteor shower sounds strange, it's probably because it doesn't sound like it's associated with a constellation. That's because the Quadrantids constellation no longer exists—at least not as a recognized constellation.

The constellation Quadrans Muralis, first observed and noted in 1795 between Bute and Draco, is no longer included in the International Astronomical Union's list of modern constellations because it is considered obsolete and no longer used as a landmark for celestial navigation. Earth's sky.

Like the Geminid meteor shower, the Quadrantids come from a mysterious asteroid or “rock comet” rather than an icy comet, which is unusual. This particular asteroid is 2003 EH1, which takes 5.52 years to complete one orbit around the Sun and measures 2 miles (3.2 kilometers).

But astronomers believe a second object, Comet 96P/Machholz, may be contributing to the shower, according to EarthSky. A comet orbits the Sun every 5.3 years.

Scientists think the larger comet was gravitationally bound in a short orbit around the Sun around 2000 BC. The comet left a trail of meteors for years before disintegrating between 100 and 950 years ago. As a result, the comet left many celestial descendants, collectively known as the Machholz complex, which includes the parent bodies of the square meteor shower, Comet 96P/Machholz, and an asteroid. 2003 EH1, as well as two different comet groups and eight meteor showers, according to EarthSky.

2024 meteor shower

After the Quadrantids, meteor shower activity slows down a bit and won't occur until the next April.

Lyrids: April 21-22

Eta Aquariids: May 4-5

South Delta Aquariums: July 29-30

Alpha Capricorn: July 30-31

Perseids: August 11-12

Dragonids: October 7-8

Orionids: October 20-21

Southern Taurides: November 4-5

Northern Taurides: November 11-12

Leonidas: November 17-18

Gemini: December 13-14

Ursids: December 21-22

Full Moon and Supermoon

Twelve full moons will occur during 2024, and the September and October lunar events are also considered supermoons. Earth's sky.

Definitions of a supermoon can vary, but the term generally refers to a full moon that is closer to Earth than normal and therefore appears larger and brighter in the night sky. Some astronomers say this phenomenon occurs when the moon is within 90 percent of perigee—its closest approach to Earth in orbit.

The full moon of each month is associated with a specific name, respectively The Farmer's Almanac. But full moons have different names and meanings, respectively various indigenous tribes.

Here are the full moons for 2024:

January 25: Wolf Moon

February 24: Snow Moon

March 25: Worm Moon

April 23: Pink Moon

May 23: Flower Moon

June 21: Strawberry Moon

July 21: Buck Moon

August 19: Sturgeon Moon

September 17: Harvest Moon

October 17: Hunter's Moon

November 15: Beaver Moon

December 15: Cold Moon

Solar and lunar eclipses

There will be multiple eclipses in 2024, including two types of lunar eclipses and two types of solar eclipses. The Old Farmer's Almanac.

The most anticipated of these events Total solar eclipse on April 8, which will be visible to those living in Mexico, the United States, and Canada. A total solar eclipse occurs when the Moon passes between the Earth and the Sun and completely blocks the face of the Sun.

Those in the path of totality, or in areas where the moon's shadow will completely cover the sun, will see a total solar eclipse. Outside the path of totality, people will still be able to see a partial solar eclipse, in which the moon covers only part of the sun's face.

A total solar eclipse will not be visible in the contiguous US until August 2044.

An annular eclipse of the sun will occur in the sky on October 2 in the part of South America. This type of eclipse is similar to a total solar eclipse, except that the Moon is farthest from Earth's orbit, so it cannot completely block the Sun. Instead, an annular solar eclipse creates a “ring of fire” in the sky as the sun's fiery light surrounds the moon's shadow.

Meanwhile, a penumbral lunar eclipse will be visible to many in Europe, North and East Asia, Australia, Africa, North America and South America on March 24-25.

A lunar eclipse, which causes the moon to appear dark or darkened, occurs when the Sun, Earth, and Moon align so that the Moon passes into Earth's shadow. A penumbral lunar eclipse is more subtle and occurs when the Moon moves through the Earth's outer shadow, or penumbra.

A partial lunar eclipse, when the Earth moves between the Sun and the Full Moon without perfectly aligning, will be visible over much of Europe and Asia, Africa, North America and South America on September 17-18.

you Time and date website to see when each of these eclipses will appear.