Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Quadrantid Meteor Shower Tonight!

Yes, more rocks from space. Duck and Cover!

Tonight marks the appearance of the Quadrantid meteor shower. For some time, it was not known what the source was for this small but sometimes spectacular show of rocky debris burning up in the atmosphere. Eventually it was determined that the meteors might be remnants of a rocky fragment of "2003 EH-1," a rocky Near-Earth-Orbit object which in turn may be broken off from comet C/1490 Y1. The breakup may have occurred only 500 years ago, so the Quadrantids are a fairly new meteor shower.

The meteors will most likely appear coming from the constellation of Bootes, near Polaris, at about 2:20 am January 4 (Wednesday morning) EST. It's supposedly a short-event shower, which means tit may peak quickly at about 60-80 streaks per hour. This indicates the debris lies in a narrow band as the Earth passes through. Checking weather forecasts indicate hazy skies and very cold tonight.

Here at the SpaceRubble Command Bunker, work has started this week after the holiday vacation so it's doubtful I'll be willing to witness this shower. It may depend as well on the fickle weather here in Utah. Still, the relatively brief intensity of this shower is interesting and some fireballs have been seen in past showers, so it may be worth it. Working against this is also the freezing temperatures, so if you decide to brave the danger, dress warm and be prepared to duck!

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