Meteor Watch

January's main meteor show is the Quadrantids, but we are lucky as a club to have a special reason to check them out: The shower's parent source is comet 96P/Macholz.

This first annual shower usually peaks only two days after the New Year.

The Quadrantids have the shortest duration of all the major showers, only four days. The brief but intense maximum can produce rates in excess of 100 meteors per hour for those lucky observers in the right place at the right time.

Begin your Quadrantid observations at midnight. The shower must be expected to peak near 5 am local time in order to see it at itís best. Observing only 6 hours on either side of maximum often will produce rates no better than 20-30 meteors per hour.

The Quadrantids produce abundant fireballs at maximum and are thus easy to photograph. However, this year it will be whitewashed only two days after a full moon.

Due to this, expect to see about 10-20 meteors/hour just before dawn.

1999 Max: Jan 3/4 at 23 hr UT; ZHR: 120; Vel. 41 km/s(Fast); Duration: Jan 1-5; Population Index: 2.1; Radiant Diameter: 1.13 degrees; Train Production 5.1%; Radiant: RA 15h20m, Dec. +49 degrees; Three Letter Shower Code: QUA

Thanks to George Zay for his unrelenting research.

Dave North; last updated: 1998 Dec 16 Prev Next