The Quadrantiden meteor shower, which is one of the strongest spectacles in the sky but is sometimes difficult to see, will peak on Saturday evening and mark the first meteor shower of 2021.
The annual meteor shower is known for its “bright fireball meteors” and is said to be “one of the best annual meteor showers” NASA.
This year, a brilliant waning moon could make it harder to spot the meteors that normally light up a dark night sky EarthSky. However, it’s still worth looking up at the sky for a look at the annual light show.
Here’s what you should know about the 2021 Quadrant Meteor Shower:
What causes the Quadrantid meteor shower?
The Quadrantids are no ordinary meteor shower. While most meteor showers are caused by the burning of tiny debris from a comet as it enters the Earth’s atmosphere, it is believed that the quadrantids are caused by debris from an asteroid or a possible “rock comet,” according to NASA.
Every year these debris traces come into contact with the earth’s atmosphere, where they burn up and create colorful glasses in the night sky.
When to see
The International Meteor Organization predicts the peak will be on January 3rd at 2:30 p.m. UTC, meaning people in North America have the best chance of seeing the shower in the wee hours of January 3rd.
While some meteor showers peak for days, the Quadrantids have a window of just a few hours and have been known for not always showing up on time.
How to Observe the Quadrantids
The Quadrantids prefer those in the northern hemisphere. The American Meteor Society recommends that people “face the northeast quadrant of the sky and center their gaze about halfway up the sky.”
“If you look in that direction, you can see meteors shoot out of the beam in all directions. This makes it easier to distinguish between quadrantids and random meteors from other sources,” the group explained in a blog entry.
What can you expect from the first meteor shower in 2021?
This year’s show may not be as noticeable as it has been in previous years due to the moonlight, but up to 100 meteors per hour could whiz through the sky during the peak AccuWeather. However, the outlet reported that it is more likely that people will only see a quarter of the action.
The shower next year is expected to be even better. The American Meteor Society said the Quadrandtides are expected to peak on January 3 at 9:00 PM UT without a moon in 2022. This timing will benefit a sky-watching audience in Asia.