THE QUADRANTID METEOR SHOWERS FROM WIMBERLEY
The fine new year of 2014 will be rung in with a sky show with no carbon footprint, spectacular, and far, far away. Viewers in the Central Texas Hill Country may have a relatively rare opportunity to view it from a comfortable position on Earth.
The Quadrantids are an above average shower, with up to 100 meteors per hour at their peak. The shower usually peaks on January 3rd and 4th, but start watching from January 1st through the 5th and you usually won't be disappointed. As with most meteor showers, your best viewing opportunity will be from a dark location after midnight. Look for meteors radiating from the constellation Bootes.
Saturday morning, January 4, 2014, will be the best date for viewing the Quadrantids in the Wimberley area, usually an unpredictable meteor shower. Observers in western North America have
the good fortune to view as many as a couple of meteor sightings each minute, given clear, dark
skies in the pre-dawn hours.
Views of meteor showers are often obstructed by moonlight, but a new Moon on January 1st, 2014 will create ideal viewing conditions. Although the Quadrantids shower has a brief, intense maximum lasting only a few hours, it can be one of the most intense annual celestial displays.
Joe Rao (Space.com) describes factors that make this shower difficult to view on a regular basis:
"* Peak intensity is exceedingly sharp: meteor rates exceed one-half of their highest value for only about 8 hours (compared to two days for the August Perseids). This means that the stream of particles that produce this shower is a narrow one – apparently derived within the last
500 years from a small comet.
* As viewed from mid-northern latitudes, we have to get up before dawn to see the Quadrantids at their best. This is because the radiant – that part of the sky from where the meteors to emanate – is down low on the northern horizon until about midnight, rising slowly higher as the night progresses. The growing light of dawn ends meteor observing usually by around 7 a.m. So, if the "Quads" are to be seen at all, some part of that 8-hour active period must fall between 2 and 7 a.m.
* In one out of every three years, bright moonlight spoils the view.
* Over northern latitudes, early January often sees inclement/unsettled weather."
However, this year the prospects for amazing views are excellent. The meteors
are described as "...bright and bluish with long silvery trains."
Quadrantids usually begin around December 28th, ending January 7th. However, they are barely detectable on the dates before and after the maximum, which lasts only for a few hours.
Even with the possibility of intermittent clouds, Quadrantids viewing this year may be excellent...be certain to dress warmly as we will have the usual dead-of-winter early morning temps.
Meteor Shower Guide from EarthSky
Quadrantid Meteor Shower at EarthSky