The Quadrantid meteor shower is set to peak Saturday night. This is one of the biggest spectacles in the sky but can be difficult to see at times! This will be the first meteor shower of 2021.
This meteor shower happens annually and is known for its “bright fireball meteors”. This is often considered one of the best showers of the year.
This year, a bright waning gibbous moon may make it harder to spot the meteors, which usually illuminate a dark night sky, according to EarthSky. But it’s still worth gazing to the heavens for a glimpse of the annual light show.
Here’s what to know about the 2021 Quadrantid meteor shower:
The Quadrantids aren’t just an ordinary meteor shower. Most meteor showers are caused by when tiny bits of debris from a comet burn up upon entering Earth’s atmosphere. But the Quadrantids are believed to be caused by debris from an asteroid or possible “rock comet,” according to NASA.
Once a year the debris trails come into contact with Earth’s atmosphere. They then burn up creating a wonderful and colorful spectacle in the night sky.
The International Meteor Organization forecasts the peak will be on January 3 at 14:30 pm UTC. This means people in North America have their best chance of seeing the shower during the predawn hours of January 3rd.
Some meteor showers peak for days but the Quadrantids will only have a window of just a few hours. They have however sometimes been known to not show up right on schedule.
The Quadrantids tend to be the most prominent in the Northern Hemisphere. The American Meteor Society recommends people “face the northeast quadrant of the sky and center your view about half-way up in the sky.”
“By facing this direction you be able to see meteors shoot out of the radiant in all directions. This will make it easy to differentiate between the Quadrantids and random meteors from other sources,” the group explained in a blog post.
It seems this year’s show might not be as flashy as past years primarily because of the moonlight. With the possibility of as many as 100 meteors whizzing through the sky every hour during its peak, according to AccuWeather. It is still only reported to be likely to see a quarter of the action.