Quadrantid meteor shower to sparkle in early January sky
The new year will kick off with a major meteor shower, and all signs are pointing toward a dazzling display in the sky on Friday night as long as Mother Nature cooperates.
The Quadrantids often go overlooked during the frigid nights in early January, but people that brave the cold this year may get rewarded as the ingredients are coming together for a good showing over North America.
January’s lone meteor shower will peak on Friday night into the pre-dawn hours of Saturday morning and, under ideal conditions, can spark over 100 meteors per hour in the dark winter sky.
Unlike most meteor showers that have a broad peak over several days, the Quadrantids have a sharp peak that lasts just a few hours. In 2020, the International Meteor Organization (IMO) is projecting that the Quadrantids will peak around 3 a.m. EST Saturday, which is an ideal time for North American observers as it will be dark across the continent.
The best time to watch a meteor shower is when the radiant point is high in the sky, and that will be the case for the Quadrantids when they peak early Saturday morning. Shooting stars will originate from near the constellation Ursa Major, more commonly known as the Big Dipper. However, shooting stars will be visible in all areas of the sky.
Finally, the moon will be below the horizon during the second half of the night, greatly reducing the amount of natural light pollution.
With these three ingredients coming together almost perfectly, folks across North America may be able to count anywhere from 60 to 200 meteors per hour before daybreak on Saturday morning, according to the IMO.