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Monday, January 4, 2010

Hujan Meteor Quadrantins - 3/4 Januari 2010

The Quadrantid meteor shower is one of the strongest meteor showers of the year, but observers can be disappointed if conditions are not just right. The point from where the Quadrantid meteors appear to radiate is located within the extinct constellation Quadrans Muralis. On modern star charts, this radiant is located where the constellations Hercules, Boötes, and Draco meet in the sky. The shower can appear almost nonexistent until about 11 p.m. Unfortunately, the radiant does not attain a very high altitude for most Northern Hemisphere observers before morning twilight puts an end to the show. The best observations are actually possible from countries with high northern latitudes, such as Canada, Finland, Sweden, and Norway. The display is virtually nonexistent for observers in the Southern Hemisphere.

The Quadrantids generally begin on December 28 and end on January 7, with maximum generally occurring during the morning hours of January 3/4. The Quadrantids are barely detectable on the beginning and ending dates, but observers in the Northern Hemisphere can see from 10 to around 60 meteors per hour at maximum. The maximum only lasts for a few hours.

Thus, the Quadrantid meteor shower is an extremely short one, lasting only a few hours. In 2010 the Quadrantids are predicted to reach a peak of about 120 meteors per hour at 1 p.m. EST on Sunday, January 3. Unfortunately, for us in North Carolina, this sharply peaked shower will not really get rolling before sunrise although a few early meteors may be spotted before morning twilight as the shower approaches. Viewers in Asia will fare better since the peak occurs before sunrise there. In any case, one should observe from a clear, dark location with a good horizon. Look high in the northeast for meteors appearing to radiate out of a point between the constellations of Hercules the strong man and Boötes the herdsman. Binoculars or telescopes are not needed to observe meteors. This year Full Moon occurs on New Years Eve which means a waning gibbous moon will interfere with observations of the fainter meteors between midnight and dawn. Incidentally, meteor showers are usually named after the constellation out of which the meteors seem to originate, i.e., their radiant point. However, there is no modern constellation of Quadrans. Instead, this shower retains its name from the obsolete constellation of Quadrans Muralis an instrument used to measure the positions of stars. The actual radiant of the shower is in the edge of Boötes.

(From several sources: 1 dan 2)