How about welcoming the new year with a meteor shower?
On the evening of January 3 and 4, you can do just that. As it will be time to witness the Quadrantid Meteor Shower, the first of its kind for 2020.
The Quadrantids, which originate from an asteroid known as 2003 EH1 (possibly an “extinct comet”), is one of only two known meteor showers to originate from a rocky body. The December Geminids is the other, originating from “rock comet” asteroid 3200 Phaethon.
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According to Earth Sky, “we’ll have moon-free skies during the predawn hours on January 4 for this year’s peak, expected late night January 3 until the following day.”
The Quadrantid have been known to produce “50 to 100 meteors in a dark sky” and this year’s moon-free skies will allow for “all time zones around the world to enjoy a good display.” Even if you only catch the shower at an off-peak moment, the rates of about 20 meteors per hour are still expected.
“North America has a good shot at viewing the shower at its best during the predawn hours on January 4,” reads the Earth Sky post. The International Meteor Organization pegs the peak at 8:00 UTC (universal time).
The website has also listed the three “best practices” for watching meteor showers. These include:
- Checking the weather
- Getting away from light pollution
- Being patient
For the best viewing, make sure to give your eyes time to adapt to the dark. This usually takes anywhere between 30 to 45 minutes.
Overall, the best bet for Canadian skywatchers may be to head out after sunset and get set up to watch for meteors in the earlier hours of the night, so as to hopefully catch the tail end of the peak.
Enjoy the light show!