Friday 1 January 2016

January's first meteor shower: The 2015 Quadrantids.

The Quadrantid Meteor Shower is one of the brightest meteor showers of the year, often producing over 100 meteors per hour at its peak, which falls on the night of 3-4 January each year, and is predicted to peak at 8.00 am GMT on Monday 4 January 2016. The meteor shower originates in the constellation of Boötes, which is slightly confusing, as most meteor showers are named for the constellation in which they originate. This is because the constellation was named in the sixteenth century by astronomer Tycho Brahe, before the introduction of standardized constellations used by modern astronomers, though to make matters a little more confusing, Brahe didn't name the meteors this way either; the name comes from the constellation of Quadrans Muralis, introduced by Joseph Jérôme Lefrançois de Lalande in 1795, and dropped by the International Astronomical Union in 1922.
 The point of origin for the Quadrantid Meteors. Sky-Watching.

The Quadrantid Meteors are unusual in that they typically are only visible for a few hours either side of this peak, whereas other showers are typically visible for days or even weeks. This is thought to be because they originate from an asteroid (196256) 2003 EH1, rather than the tail of a comet as with most meteor showers. The orbit of this asteroid is tilted at an angle of 71.9° to the plane of the Solar System, so that the Earth only very briefly passes through the debris trail left by it, rather than remaining in it for some time, as is the case with the trail of a comet with an orbit in roughly the same plane as the Earth. 

The orbit of (196256) 2003 EH1. JPL Small Body Datebase Browser.

See also... Meteor Shower should be clearly visible this year.                                                            The Geminid Meteor Shower is expected to peak on Sunday 13-Monday 14 December this year (2015) with potentially up to 120 meteors per hour being visible... Meteor Shower falls this week.       Each year between 15 and 18 November (approximately), typically peaking between midnight and dawn on 18 November, the the Earth encounters the Leonid Meteors, one of the more spectacular of the annual meteor showers. Unlike most such showers, which are essentially composed of dust particles, the Leonids comprise particles of up to 8 mm across and up to 85 g in mass, leading to some... fireball over Saskatchewan and Manitoba.                                                   Many people have reported seeing a bright fireball over parts of southern Saskatchewan and Manitoba at about 8.40 pm local tine on Sunday 8 November 2015. A fireball is defined as a meteor (shooting star)...
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