First Meteor Shower Of 2014...Sun To Steal US Show - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

First Meteor Shower Of 2014...Sun To Steal US Show

Posted: Updated:
Early each January, the Quadrantid meteor shower provides one of the most intense annual celestial fireworks displays, with a brief, sharp peak lasting only a few hours. Early each January, the Quadrantid meteor shower provides one of the most intense annual celestial fireworks displays, with a brief, sharp peak lasting only a few hours.

NBCNEWS.COM - Early each January, the Quadrantid meteor shower provides one of the most intense annual celestial fireworks displays, with a brief, sharp peak lasting only a few hours. That peak occurs Friday (Jan. 3), but this year the sun will spoil the show for stargazers in North America.

The 2014 Quadrantid meteor shower will peak Friday at 3 p.m. EST (2000 GMT), in the middle of the day for most of North America, so the best meteor views will be in other parts of the world, where night has already fallen.

At its best, the Quadrantids can dazzle observers with between 60 and 120 meteors an hour. But because the peak time Friday falls in the middle of the day, U.S. observers can likely only hope to see a fraction of that peak rate before sunrise and after sunset on Friday. [Photos: Amazing Quadrantid Meteor Shower Views by Stargazers]

When and where to look
In 2014, a strong display of Quadrantid meteors is likely for central and eastern Asia, including Japan. 

As mentioned above, peak activity is expected at 3 p.m. EST (2000 GMT) Friday evening, when the radiant of this shower is ascending the dark northeastern sky. It will be early Saturday morning local time across Asia during the best viewing time, and with no moonlight to interfere this might turn out to be one of the best meteor displays of the year. Morning twilight will not interfere until about 6 a.m. local time.

But what does that mean for those of us here in North America? 

Since it will be Friday afternoon along the East Coast and noon on the West Coast, observers will have to rise before dawn or wait until after sunset, local time. Both options mean observers will see fewer meteors in the night sky because of the peak period's unfortunate timing this year.

If you venture out to look before sunrise on Friday morning, the meteor shower radiant will be well up in the northeast sky, but it will many hours before the actual peak. You might catch sight of perhaps 10 to 20 "Quads" during an hour's watch.

There will likely be even fewer meteors that might be seen early on Friday evening, but these "might" turn out to be spectacular "earthgrazers" — meteors that skim across our upper atmosphere on long, majestic paths. The emanation point of the Quadrantids at that time will be low in the northwest sky. 

If you do head out to look for meteors, remember to bundle up! Just as with the Geminid meteor shower in December, observers should remember to wear warm clothing, make sure they are away from city lights (which can interfere with any meteor shower displays) and settle in to a reclining chair for a more comfortable viewing experience.

Editor's note: If you snap an amazing photo of the Quadrantid meteor shower and you'd like to share it for a possible story or image gallery, please send images, comments and any other observing details to managing editor Tariq Malik at spacephotos@space.com.

Crumbs of a dead comet?
Because the influx of Quadrantid meteors is sharply peaked, with the bluish "shooting star" streaks occurring at only half their maximum rate six hours before and after peak time, the stream of particles is a narrow one — possibly derived relatively recently from a small comet. 

In fact, in 2003, astronomer Peter Jenniskens of NASA, found a near-Earth asteroid (2003 EH1) that seemed like it wasin the right orbit to make the Quadrantids. Some astronomers think that this asteroid is really a piece of an old, "extinct" comet; perhaps a comet that was recorded by Chinese, Korean, and Japanese observers during the years 1490-91. Maybe that comet broke apart, and some of the pieces became the meteoroids that make up the Quadrantids.

The Quadrantid meteor shower radiates from the northeast corner of the constellation of Bootes, the Herdsman, so we might expect them to be called the "Bootids." But back in the late 18th century, there was another constellation in the same spot dubbed the Quadrans Muralis, the "Mural or Wall Quadrant" (an astronomical instrument)

Quadrans Muralis is long-obsolete star pattern, invented in 1795 by J.J. Lalande to commemorate the instrument used to observe the stars in his catalogue. Adolphe Quetelet of Brussels Observatory discovered the shower in the 1830's, and shortly afterward it was noted by several astronomers in Europe and America. Thus they were christened "Quadrantids" and even though the constellation from which these meteors appear to radiate no longer exists, the shower's original moniker continues to this day.

Joe Rao serves as an instructor and guest lecturer at New York's Hayden Planetarium. He writes about astronomy for Natural History magazine, the Farmer's Almanac and other publications, and he is also an on-camera meteorologist for News 12 Westchester, N.Y. Follow us @Spacedotcom, Facebook or Google+. Originally published on SPACE.com.

  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • NEW INFORMATION: High Drive brush fire believed to be human caused

    NEW INFORMATION: High Drive brush fire believed to be human caused

    Wednesday, July 30 2014 4:36 AM EDT2014-07-30 08:36:17 GMT
    SPOKANE, Wash.- Tuesday evening the Spokane Fire department announced they had a likely cause for the High Drive brush fire: humans. The fire broke out Monday afternoon about 3pm on the west side of Spokane's South Hill between Squelch Golf Course and High Drive. By 6pm it had grown to 30 acres and moved to within 75 yards of several homes on High Drive.
    >>
    SPOKANE, Wash.- Tuesday evening the Spokane Fire department announced they had a likely cause for the High Drive brush fire: humans. The fire broke out Monday afternoon about 3pm on the west side of Spokane's South Hill between Squelch Golf Course and High Drive. By 6pm it had grown to 30 acres and moved to within 75 yards of several homes on High Drive.

    >>
  • PHOTOS JUST IN: Devastation from Carlton Complex; 300 homes burned

    PHOTOS JUST IN: Devastation from Carlton Complex; 300 homes burned

    Saturday, July 26 2014 12:07 AM EDT2014-07-26 04:07:59 GMT
    TWISP, Wash. (AP) - The Okanogan County Sheriff says the Carlton Complex wildfire has many more homes than previously thought. Sheriff Frank Rogers said Friday that the Carlton Complex fire has consumed about 300 homes this month. His office previously placed the number at 150, but he said then he knew it would rise.>>
    TWISP, Wash. (AP) - The Okanogan County Sheriff says the Carlton Complex wildfire has many more homes than previously thought. Sheriff Frank Rogers said Friday that the Carlton Complex fire has consumed about 300 homes this month. His office previously placed the number at 150, but he said then he knew it would rise.>>
  • WILDFIRE WATCH 2014: DNR crews tackling new wildfire near Tonasket

    WILDFIRE WATCH 2014: DNR crews tackling new wildfire near Tonasket

    Tuesday, July 29 2014 9:14 PM EDT2014-07-30 01:14:11 GMT
    TONASKET, Wash.- The Department of Natural Resources says they are battling a new wildfire northeast of Tonasket. The fire is called the "Torado Mountain" wildfire. DNR crews say there are a lot of air resources on this 150-acre fire.>>
    TONASKET, Wash.- The Department of Natural Resources says they are battling a new wildfire northeast of Tonasket. The fire is called the "Torado Mountain" wildfire. DNR crews say there are a lot of air resources on this 150-acre fire. >>
  • National NewsMore>>

  • Hamas agrees to 24-hour holiday truce in Gaza war

    Hamas agrees to 24-hour holiday truce in Gaza war

    Sunday, July 27 2014 10:36 AM EDT2014-07-27 14:36:04 GMT
    GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) - Hamas says it has agreed to a 24-hour humanitarian truce in the Gaza war ahead of a major Muslim holiday. Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said the truce would go into effect at 2 p.m. Sunday. The three-day Eid al-Fitr holiday, which caps the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, is expected to begin Monday or Tuesday, depending on the sighting of the new moon.>>
    GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) - Hamas says it has agreed to a 24-hour humanitarian truce in the Gaza war ahead of a major Muslim holiday. Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said the truce would go into effect at 2 p.m. Sunday. The three-day Eid al-Fitr holiday, which caps the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, is expected to begin Monday or Tuesday, depending on the sighting of the new moon.>>
  • Dutch: 1st victim identified from Flight 17

    Dutch: 1st victim identified from Flight 17

    Saturday, July 26 2014 5:55 PM EDT2014-07-26 21:55:02 GMT
    THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) - The Dutch government says the first victim has been identified from the Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 disaster.The name and sex of the victim, a Dutch national, weren't released. The government said Saturday the next of kin and mayor of the victim's hometown have been informed.>>
    THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) - The Dutch government says the first victim has been identified from the Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 disaster.The name and sex of the victim, a Dutch national, weren't released. The government said Saturday the next of kin and mayor of the victim's hometown have been informed.>>
  • 3 rockets hit Israel as Hamas rejects Gaza truce

    3 rockets hit Israel as Hamas rejects Gaza truce

    Saturday, July 26 2014 5:19 PM EDT2014-07-26 21:19:11 GMT
    JERUSALEM (AP) - The Israeli military says three rockets have been fired from Gaza at Israel despite a proposed extension of a humanitarian truce in the Gaza war.Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said the group rejected Israel's proposal to extend an original 12-hour lull by four hours, until midnight Saturday.>>
    JERUSALEM (AP) - The Israeli military says three rockets have been fired from Gaza at Israel despite a proposed extension of a humanitarian truce in the Gaza war.Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said the group rejected Israel's proposal to extend an original 12-hour lull by four hours, until midnight Saturday.>>
  • Top Stories from KHQTop StoriesMore>>

  • FIRST ON KHQ: Fire crews battle overnight house fire in northwest Spokane

    FIRST ON KHQ: Fire crews battle overnight house fire in northwest Spokane

    Wednesday, July 30 2014 4:36 AM EDT2014-07-30 08:36:37 GMT
    SPOKANE, Wash.- On Tuesday night at 11:35pm Spokane fire crews were called out to a house fire in northwest Spokane. The fire broke out in a two-story home at West Mission and North Oak. The home is located near Cannon Playground. When crews arrived there were flames showing and heavy smoke and those inside had been evacuated.>>
    SPOKANE, Wash.- On Tuesday night at 11:35pm Spokane fire crews were called out to a house fire in northwest Spokane. The fire broke out in a two-story home at West Mission and North Oak. The home is located near Cannon Playground. When crews arrived there were flames showing and heavy smoke and those inside had been evacuated.>>
  • NEW INFORMATION: High Drive brush fire believed to be human caused

    NEW INFORMATION: High Drive brush fire believed to be human caused

    Wednesday, July 30 2014 4:36 AM EDT2014-07-30 08:36:17 GMT
    SPOKANE, Wash.- Tuesday evening the Spokane Fire department announced they had a likely cause for the High Drive brush fire: humans. The fire broke out Monday afternoon about 3pm on the west side of Spokane's South Hill between Squelch Golf Course and High Drive. By 6pm it had grown to 30 acres and moved to within 75 yards of several homes on High Drive.
    >>
    SPOKANE, Wash.- Tuesday evening the Spokane Fire department announced they had a likely cause for the High Drive brush fire: humans. The fire broke out Monday afternoon about 3pm on the west side of Spokane's South Hill between Squelch Golf Course and High Drive. By 6pm it had grown to 30 acres and moved to within 75 yards of several homes on High Drive.

    >>
  • A good problem to have: Carlton Complex no longer accepting donated goods

    A good problem to have: Carlton Complex no longer accepting donated goods

    Tuesday, July 29 2014 11:38 PM EDT2014-07-30 03:38:00 GMT
    OKANOGAN COUNTY, Wash.- The people in charge at the Carlton Complex wildfires in Okanogan County say they can no longer accept any donated goods. The problem, they say, is that so many people donated so much that they simply ran out of room.>>
    OKANOGAN COUNTY, Wash.- The people in charge at the Carlton Complex wildfires in Okanogan County say they can no longer accept any donated goods. The problem, they say, is that so many people donated so much that they simply ran out of room.>>