January 2, 2014
Quadrantids Meteor Shower Broadcast Live On Friday
Lee Rannals for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
The Quadrantids meteor shower will be helping to kick off the new year with a bang, displaying up to 80 meteors per hour on Friday. The meteor shower will only last for a few hours on the morning of January 3. NASA said that only people in the northern hemisphere will be able to see the shower.
“The Quadranids [sic], will present an excellent chance for hardy souls to start the year off with some late-night meteor watching,” officials at the space agency said in late December. “The very young moon will set early, presenting an excellent opportunity for meteor observations.”
The Quadrantids were named after the extinct constellation of Quadrans Muralis, which was created by the French astronomer Jerome Lalande in 1795. Quadrans Muralis was located between Bootes and Draco.
After traveling hundreds of years around the sun, the Quadrantids will enter our Earth’s atmosphere at 90,000 miles per hour, burning up 50 miles above the planet’s surface.
The meteors derive from an asteroid known as 2003 EH1. NASA says that this asteroid came from a comet which broke apart several hundred years ago, and the annual shower comes from debris that came out of this fragmentation.
The Quadrantids are known for their ability to produce fireballs, which are meteors that seem to linger more as they streak across the sky like a fireball. Although these meteors streak more than other showers, they are still small and pose no danger to people or property.
NASA said it will be providing a Ustream view of the meteor shower from its Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. Cameras will begin recording the show at about 6:00 p.m. eastern time.
“Currently, skies are predicted to be cloudy over Huntsville for the first part of the evening, then clearing in the early morning hours for the best part of the show,” the space agency said.
Slooh, best known for its live celestial broadcasts, said it will also be providing coverage of the meteor shower from the Canary Islands and Arizona.
“Using high sensitivity wide field cameras in the Canary islands and in Arizona, Slooh will show the Quadrantid meteors accompanied by narration from Slooh astronomer Bob Berman. The broadcast will continue throughout the night, taking advantage of both the rich nature of this annual shower, and very favorable sky conditions this year with the Moon entirely absent,” Slooh said.
Slooh said it is providing a double feature, covering the Earth as it makes its closest approach to the sun on Saturday morning. The company will be broadcasting real time images of the sun through the special Solar telescope at the Prescott Observatory. The broadcast will include real-time solar storms and eruptions from other Sun phenomena starting at 1:00 p.m. Eastern.
Observers who wish to view the shower without the help of Ustream or Slooh will need to look into the northern tip of the constellation Bootes. Astronomers say that onlookers should look as low as possible toward the horizon without seeing the ground.
Those who miss the Qaudrantids will have to wait until April for the next meteor shower, which will include both the Lyrids and Eta Aquariids. The Lyrids will be largely blotted out by a bright moon in April, but the Eta Aquariids will be shining during dark skies from April 19, peaking on May 5 and 6.