Quadrantid meteor shower to set night skies ablaze

These meteors deliver more bright, long-lasting fireballs over northern skies during a short peak period than other showers. It's quite a show if you know when to watch.

A Quadrantid fireball on a kamikaze mission to say "Happy New Year." NASA/Jimmy Westlake

Get ready fireball fans, one of the best meteor showers of the year is about to peak. Each new year begins with a visit from the Quadrantids, which are known for producing lots of bright fireballs in the night sky.

The Quadrantids don't have the following of more famous asteroid showers like the Perseids because the Quadrantid peak only lasts for a few hours, compared to peaks that can last for a few days for the better known meteor groups. But if you know when to look, the Quadrantids typically deliver. NASA says it's possible to see them at a rate of more than one per minute, with many of them being of the exceptionally bright and longer-lasting fireball variety.

Here in North America, your best bet to catch the Quadrantids is to get as far away from city lights as best you can with a sleeping bag and some Vodka whatever else you need to feel comfortable for a few hours. After about half an hour your eyes should be fully adjusted to the dark and, ideally, you can take the few hours between 3 a.m. and dawn on January 3 and 4 to catch the Quadrantids at their maximum intensity.

You can also keep an eye on meteor activity in your area online, or watch a NASA UStream channel of the meteor shower.

If you happen to catch any great photos of the Quadrantids, be sure to direct us to them via Twitter @Crave and @EricCMack.

About the author

Crave freelancer Eric Mack is a writer, radio producer, and podcaster based in Taos, N.M., but he lives in Google+. He's also managing editor of Crowdsourcing.org and has written e-books on both Alaska and Android. E-mail Eric.

 

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