How To Get The Best View Of Tonight’s Meteor Shower
Shooting stars will be lighting up the sky tonight!
If the New Year’s Eve fireworks didn’t quite live up to your expectations, there’s a natural light show setting up to redeem it.
Everyone in the Northern hemisphere has a chance to view the annual Quadrantid meteor shower. This exceptional celestial sighting runs from Dec. 22 to Jan. 17, but the peak is tonight!
For a few hours tonight, the sky will light up with falling stars. The Quadrantid meteor shower is unlike any other. Its meteors look like large fireballs. They appear more colorful, brighter and last longer than other meteor showers.
The Quadrantid meteor shower gets its name from Quadrans Muralis, an out-of-date constellation. Unlike other meteor showers, this light show originates from an asteroid. The 2003 EH1 asteroid was likely a comet long ago.
Here’s a great shot of the Quadrantid meteor shower in 2016, taken by photographer Neil Zeller:
— Neil Zeller (@Neil_Zee) January 3, 2017
This year’s display won’t be quite the showstopper we usually expect from Quadrantid. Some years there are more than 120 meteors per hour. However, this year NASA predicts up to 40 meteors per hour. That’s still a bunch of shooting stars—so get your wishes ready!
However, the waning Full Wolf Moon is the largest and brightest full moon of the year, and it may steal the show.
Look at this stunning photo of the full moon shining on the snow in Ohio, shared by Instagrammer Kitty and Bear:
Full 'Wolf Moon', also the Super Moon for January 2018 – Dayton, OH #supermoon #supermoon2018 #Weather #ohwx #moon #astronomy #weatherphoto #StormHour #nightphotography #canon #CanonFavPic #Ohio #photography #weatherchannel #Weathercloud #snow #winter pic.twitter.com/npkHGbscoS
— Kitty And Bear (@Kitty_And_Bear) January 2, 2018
Though the light from the moon will outshine many of the meteors, there are ways you can still catch the falling stars.
What’s up in the night sky this January? A meteor shower! The Quadrantid meteor shower lasts for just a few hours on Jan. 4, coinciding with a very bright, nearly full moon that will sadly wash out most of the meteors. ProTip: You can look in any direction to see all meteor showers. When you see one of these meteors, hold a shoestring along the path it followed. The shoestring will lead you back to the constellation containing the meteor's origin. Watch to find out when and where to look up! Credit: NASA #nasa #nasagif #meteors #eclipse# moon #orionids #leonids #quadrantids# lunareclipse #upinthesky #january #nightsky #constellations# jupiter #mars #january #whatsup
In order to see the Quadrantids tonight, you must find a spot far from artificial light and the moon. A large land formation like a hill or mountain is a good way to block the light from the moon. The new Dark Sky Reserve in Idaho, an area with minimal light pollution, is an ideal spot for celestial views—if any of you are lucky enough to live near there.
We are especially proud today to announce the designation of the first International Dark Sky Reserve in the United States! The new Reserve encompasses some 3,668 square kilometers (1,416 square miles) of remote and largely rugged lands in the Sawtooth Mountains of central Idaho, U.S., whose night skies are nearly pristine. Learn more about the new reserve on darksky.org/centralidaho, or visit the Reserve’s website on idahodarksky.org. (Photo by Wally Pacholka / AstroPics.com) #DarkSkies #VisitIdaho
Then, lie down and wait for the shooting stars. Look to the northeast and the meteors will appear from near the Big Dipper’s handle. According to the International Meteor Organisation, we can expect to see dozens of shooting stars per hour. The most meteors will be visible in the last hour before dawn.
So you may want to get up extra early and wish upon a star!
Check out this video below to learn more about the Quarantid meteor shower:
And this one shows a cool time-lapse of the Quadrantids captured on video from Tennessee back in 2012, so if you can’t make it out in those predawn hours to catch the show, there’s always YouTube!