Quadrantid Meteors Ring in the New Year
The annual Quandrantid meteor shower makes its return in 2007 from 1st - 6th January. Maximum activity of the shower is expected in a very narrow time frame of a few hours centred on half-past midnight during the night of 3rd/4th January with up to about 100 shooting stars per hour visible under ideal conditions.
Viewing conditions, however, for the shower this time around are somewhat unfavourable as the peak of activity occurs near full Moon thus making it difficult to observe the fainter meteors. Quadrantids are usually bluish or yellow/green and during peak activity seem to radiate from the constellation Boötes, the modern counterpart of the now-defunct constellation Quadrans Muralis, lying just beyond the end of the handle of the Plough.
Peter Jenniskens of the NASA Ames Research Center in California, USA has pointed out that the source for the Quadrantids might be a recently discovered asteroid, or inert comet, 2003 EH1. EH1 was discovered by B. A. Skiff using the 59cm LONEOS automatic telescope at the Lowell Observatory in March 2003.
For Northern Ireland observers, the constellation of Boötes will rise in the northeast around midnight. Observers are advised to wrap up in plenty of layers of warm clothing and look away from the Moon from a dark, preferably elevated, site. As the night wears on, the shooting stars may appear in almost any part of the sky.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION PLEASE CONTACT: John McFarland at the Armagh Observatory, College Hill, Armagh, BT61 9DG. Tel.: 028-3752-2928; FAX: 028-3752-7174; jmfarm.ac.uk.
Last Revised: 2007 January 2nd
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