Monday, January 3, 2011

Quadrantids Meteor Shower Peaks Tonight

The 2011 Quadranitds—which peak tonight—are slated to be one of the best meteor showers of the year. During the peak, around 1 a.m. UT on Tuesday, upward of a hundred shooting stars an hour may be visible in dark, rural areas, astronomers estimate. The Quadrantids will be best viewed in Europe and Central Asia. North American observers will see the trailing end of the peak in the wee hours of Tuesday morning.

The Quadrantids are considered one of the most reliable and productive of the annual meteor displays, Jung said, but they're not as well known for two reasons: their brevity and their awkward timing in the calendar year. While the Quadrantids' hourly rates are estimated to range anywhere from 60 to 130 meteors, the shower lasts for a period of just two to four hours—so timing your observations is essential, Jung said.

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