This year the Quadrantid meteor shower reaches its sharp peak of activity around midday on 3rd January in the UK (early morning in the US) . From the UK the best time to see them is in the last part of the night, before dawn on the morning of the 3rd, when perhaps a few tens of meteors will be visible each hour.
Meteors (popularly known as ‘shooting stars’), result from small particles entering the Earth’s atmosphere at high speed, heating and ionising the air around them to cause a short-lived streak of light.
The Quadrantid meteors appear to radiate from a region of the sky once marked by the now-defunct constellation Quadrans Muralis from which the shower takes its name and now near the more familiar Ursa Major (containing the ‘Plough’).
From the UK on the morning of the maximum, the shower radiant will be high in the east. Quadrantid meteors can be fairly slow and bright and sometimes show strong blue or green colours and under a clear, dark sky, the shower should be easily visible to the unaided eye.
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