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Catch a Glimpse of the Quadrantid Fireworks: How to Watch the First Meteor Shower of the Year!

The Quadrantids meteor shower is upon us and this is the perfect opportunity for anyone looking to have a star-filled night. Every year, the Quadrantids are the first meteor shower of the year, and this year they’ll be most active overnight on the night of January 3rd into the early morning of the 4th.

The Quadrantids are named after the constellation Quadrans Muralis, which is no longer recognized as a modern constellation.

This meteor shower is known for its short peak, lasting for only a few hours at most. The short peak means that they are best viewed around its peak times, so planning your star-gazing is the key to a successful night of Quadrantids viewing.

With all of the light pollution that most of us face on a daily basis, you’ll want to find a spot away from city lights. Get out of town and find a spot with a wide open view of the night sky or a nearby mountainous region with a clear night sky- ideally away from clouds as well.

Your next step is to locate the constellation Ursa Major, which is also known as the Big Dipper, in the northern sky. This constellation can be found easily as it’s one of the most recognizable constellations in the night sky.

The Quadrantid meteor shower will appear near the handle of the Big Dipper. Once you’ve located it, all that’s left to do is to set up chairs to recline in and a blanket or two to keep warm.

When the meteors will appear has yet to be determined. Astronomers calculate the peak of the meteor shower the day of by plotting the Radar counting rates. As of now, it is expected that the peak time of the Quadrantids will be between 2am 72am UTC, or 9pm- 3am EST.

Compared to other meteor showers such as the August Perseids, with up to 100 meteors per hour, the Quadrantids are much less predictable and have been recorded up to 120 meteors per hour. Once you’re all set up, you can expect to see up to 30 meteors per hour and it is suggested to have patience as you watch for the meteors and use your peripheral vision to catch them as they streak across the sky.

With the Quadrantids being the first meteor shower of the year, this is the perfect opportunity to get into the spirit of stargazing. So take a few hours out of your night and head for the stars – you won’t regret it.

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