tech2 News StaffDec 31, 2019 12:54:09 IST
Can we pretend that airplanes in the night sky are like shootin’ stars
I could really use a wish right now
With the New year looming, we can all do with a few wishes and it looks like we are getting it.
The annual meteor shower, the Quadrantid meteors will be making their scheduled appearance this Saturday, 4 January 2020. The shower is active for around two weeks from 27 December to 10 January. However the peak intensity of the shower last for only a few hours and if you miss it, well its tata, goodbye till next year. If you do manage to catch it, it is a sight to behold and you might be able to see around 100 meteors an hour.
The Quadrantid Meteor Shower. Image credit: Flickr/Josh Beasley
Here is everything you need to know to have a successful meteor watching experience:
What are the Quadrantids?
The Quadrantid meteors or Quads” are among the oddest meteor showers known to us.
They were discovered fairly recently in 2003 and have a very short peak period of a few hours, unlike the Perseids or the Orionids which last for days.
Interestingly, the constellation that the Quads were named after no longer exists.
When the Quads were first spotted in 1825, the meteors appeared to stream away from a point in the sky that appeared in a constellation called the Quadrans Muralis. This constellation falls between the constellations Draco the Dragon and Boötes the Herdsman in a star map – just near the handle of the famous Big Dipper.
The International Astronomical Union prepared a list of constellations in 1922, a list in which Quadrans Muralis was neither elected, nor included.
Since 2003, the real origin of the Quadrantids has become ever so slightly clearer.
Most meteor showers come from comets that have broken apart, and the source of the Quadrantids is now believed to be an asteroid called the ‘2003 EH1’, which is believed to be an extinct comet or a “rock comet.”
Where and when to watch the showers?
The best time to watch the spectacular show, according to EarthSky, is probably late at night on 3 January until dawn on 4 January.
According to the International Meteor Organization prediction, the meteor showers will peak will come on 4 January 2020, at 1.30 pm IST. This means that people living in India will be forced to give the show a miss.
The shower favours the Northern Hemisphere because its radiant point is so far north on the sky’s dome.
The radiant point of Quadrantid meteor shower. Image credit: Wikipedia
A radiant point of a meteor shower is the point in the sky, for a person’s point of view on earth, from which the paths of meteors appear to originate.
According to EarthSky, one piece of good news for the people who will be in the northern hemisphere is that the moon is waxing and the absence of the moonlight will only be helpful.
How to watch the Quadrantids
- Binoculars and telescopes are not much use to see meteor showers since they streak overhead and are best seen without equipment.
- It’s crucial you give your eyes some time to adapt to the dark. Catch a dark patch of unobstructed sky and give your eyes 30-45 minutes away from sources of light to adjust.
- NASA advises skywatchers to find a spot sheltered and well away from the city or street lights — a parking lot or a large park ideally and carry a sleeping bag or chair along to ensure you’re comfortable.
- The radiant of the Quadrantids will fall between the handle of the Big Dipper and the head of the constellation Draco. But while the radiant can help generally spot the patch of sky to observe, it is best to look slightly away from the radiant since the meteors further away from this point last longer in the sky and are more visible.
- If you think you might need your cell phone during this time, lower the amount of blue light and brightness your screen gives off using “night mode”. Checking your phone in this mode while skywatching won’t affect your night vision as much.
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