This year, the Quadrantids meteor shower is expected to hit its peak on Tuesday, 3rd January (2017), at about 9 a.m. EST, making it impossible to see them from most of the country, except the western states, Alaska and Hawaii. The peak, which doesn’t always follow the forecast, typically lasts only about an hour. Unlike other meteor showers that last for days, Quadrantids last only a few hours.
The Quadrantids have their source in 2003 EH1, the name given to a body in space that probably broke apart from a comet about 500 years ago. The orbits of 2003 EH1 and Earth intersect every year, perpendicular to each other, and the resultant quick movement of Earth through the debris field of 2003 EH1 leads to a brief meteor shower.
[ads-post][right-side] So if you are in a place where it is possible to watch the peak activity of the Quadrantids, and you don’t mind the early morning cold, go on out in the early hours of Tuesday, remember to carry something you can spread and lie down on (standing and looking up at the sky for long durations can cause a serious pain in the neck) and find a comfortable place that has little or no artificial light.
When you are ready, look in the north-northeast direction in the sky, between the North Star and the Big Dipper. And if you are in luck, you will have a truly spectacular start to 2017.
The asteroid has a perihelion (closest approach to the sun) just inside the Earth’s orbit, which is pretty far away in celestial terms. Scientists also think that the asteroid may have some connection to the Comet 96P/Machholtz, a comet that orbits the sun once every six years. First observations of the Quadrantids shower appear to be in Europe in the 1820s and 1830s.
How to get the best view:
Binoculars and telescopes are not useful for meteor showers; your eyes are enough to see the shooting stars streaking overhead. Find a dark sky and give your eyes about 20-30 minutes to adjust. Dress warmly and face a little away from the radiant in Bootes to catch the longer-streaking meteors. You can also download an app named “Fireballs in the Sky” is an app, made available by Curtin University in partnership with NASA, which allows people to report their observations. It is available for both Android and iOS.