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Quadrantids Create Year's First Meteor Shower
01.03.12
 
Image of 2012 Quadrantid meteor shower over the Florida Keys. Photo copyright Jeff Berkes, all rights reserved. Used with permission. Quadrantid meteor shower 2012, seen over the Florida Keys. Image credit/copyright to Jeff Berkes. Used with permission, all rights reserved.
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A Quadrantid meteor seen over New Mexico in the early morning hours of Jan. 3, 2013 A Quadrantid meteor seen over New Mexico in the early morning hours of Jan. 3, 2013. (NASA/MSFC/MEO)
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Editor's note: This event has been completed. Thanks for all of the participation for the 2013 Quadrantid meteor shower.

A little-known meteor shower named after an extinct constellation, the Quadrantids will present an excellent chance for hardy souls to start the year off with some late-night meteor watching. Unlike the more famous Perseid and Geminid meteor showers, the Quadrantids only last a few hours, so the peak is the early morning of Jan. 3.

Given the location of the radiant -- northern tip of Bootes the Herdsman -- only observers at latitudes north of 51 degrees south will be able to see Quadrantids.

Do You Have Some Great Quadrantid Images?

If you have some great images of the Quadrantid meteor shower, please consider adding them to the Quadrantid Meteors photo group in Flickr. Who knows -- your images may attract interest from the media and receive international exposure.

More About the Quadrantids

The Quadrantids derive their name from the constellation of Quadrans Muralis (mural quadrant), which was created by the French astronomer Jerome Lalande in 1795. Located between the constellations of Bootes and Draco, Quadrans represents an early astronomical instrument used to observe and plot stars. Even though the constellation is no longer recognized by astronomers, it was around long enough to give the meteor shower -- first seen in 1825 -- its name.

Like the Geminids, the Quadrantids originate from an asteroid, called 2003 EH1. Dynamical studies suggest that this body could very well be a piece of a comet which broke apart several centuries ago, and that the meteors you will see before dawn on Jan. 3 are the small debris from this fragmentation. After hundreds of years orbiting the sun, they will enter our atmosphere at 90,000 mph, burning up 50 miles above Earth's surface -- a fiery end to a long journey!
 
 


NASA Media Contact:
Janet Anderson, 256-544-0034
NASA Marshall Space Flight Center, Ala.