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Sunday, 03 January 2010 21:58

Quadrantids introduce the new 2010 meteor shower year

The annual Quadrantid meteor shower is expected to peak on January 3, 2010, with favorable viewing skies over Eastern Europe and Asia. Many of the meteors within the Quadrantids will appear bluish in color.

The peak of the Quadrantid meteor shower is expected to occur at approximately 1900 Universal Time (UT) on January 3rd, or 2 p.m. Eastern Standard Time (EST) in the eastern region of the United States.

The blue and bright meters will be traveling fast across the night sky—at about 40 kilometers (25 miles) per hour.

Many may be visible over halfway across the sky. Some of them may leave a trail of dust that will be easily seen.

The center (or radiant) of this meteor shower comes from the constellation Boötes.

The name Quadrantids comes from an older name for a constellation (Quadrans Muralis) that is no longer used by astronomers.

This no-longer-used constellation lies within the constellation Boötes—which is positioned between the end of the handle of the Big Dipper and the grouping stars that make up the head of the constellation Draco.

See the sky map of where the meteors will appear at the Photosbykev.com website and, more specifically, at the Space-e-zone.com website.

Page two continues with more information on the Quadrantids, including the parent body of this meteor shower.

Sky watchers in Eastern Europe and Asia have the best positions for this meteor shower of the Northern Hemisphere.

Over one hundred meteors per hour are expected at its peak—assuming that the skies are very clear and devoid of human–made lighting.

The peak intensity for the Quadrantids is expected to last less then eight hours—maybe as short as one hour in some cases.

The best night to view the Quadrantids is January 3rd, although the shower can be viewed on any night from the first of January 2010 to the 5th of the month (and may even extend out to the 7th).

The meteor shower will be seen best after midnight, at your local time.

The Quadrantids are a stream of meteors that were created when the minor planet 2003 EH1 was broken up.

The meteor shower was initially seen by Adolphe Quetelet in the 1830s while observing from the Brussels Observatory, and further confirmed by other astronomers around the world.

The source of the Quadrantids was unknown until it was identified in 2003 by U.S. astronomer Peter Jenniskens (a scientist with the Carl Sagan Center at the SETI Institute) as the minor planet 2003 EH1.

Check out the paper “2003 EH1 Is the Quadrantid Shower,” which appeared in the May 2004 issue of the The Astronomical Journal (Volume 127, Issue 5, pp. 3018-3022).

Dr. Jenniskens’ abstract states, “I now find that the shower originated from 2003 EH1, a minor planet discovered by LONEOS on March 6, currently passing 0.213 AU outside of Earth orbit in a high-inclination, comet-like orbit with a Tisserand invariant with respect to Jupiter of only 2.064.”

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