Caption:CATHEDRAL GORGE STATE PARK, NV - AUGUST 12: Perseid meteors streak across the sky on August 12, 2013 in Cathedral Gorge State Park, Nevada. The annual display, known as the Perseid shower because the meteors appear to radiate from the constellation Perseus in the northeastern sky, is a result of Earth's orbit passing through debris from the comet Swift-Tuttle. (Photo : Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
Planning to catch the first meteor shower of 2016?
There are a total of six predicted meteor shower events this year and the first batch of "falling stars" will make an appearance on January 4. The phenomenon is called the Quadrantid Meteor Shower.
Orlando Sentinel gave a brief account of how the name came to be:
The Quadrantids are named for an extinct constellation, Quadrans Muralis, according to NASA. Located between the constellations of Bootes and Draco, astronomers first spotted the Quadrantid meteor shower in 1825.
NASA's EarthSky furthered that the Quadrantids "are named for a constellation that no longer exists." While meteor showers in general are labelled after the constellations from which they radiate from, the Quadrantids used to be but are no longer so.
According to the same report, the name Quadrantids was created by French astronomer Jerome Lalande in 1795 and the constellation it was based from was located between the constellations of Bootes the Herdsman and Draco the Dragon.
Based on collated predictions on NASA's EarthSky, the peak of the meteor shower will be at 2 am for the central United States on January 4. "In other words, the radiant point for this shower be above the horizon for us in the U.S. If the prediction holds, northeastern North America and Greenland may hold the advantage."
However, as predictions go, the forecast is not 100% accurate. NASA advised to "try watching in the dark hours before dawn on January 4" for those in the northern latitude. The same report also noted that the Quadrantids favor the Northern Hemisphere since its radiant point is really far north on the sky's dome.
The Quadrantids are unlike most meteor showers and NASA told skywatchers to hope that "the narrow peak of Quadrantid shower happens at or near the same hour that the radiant point resides highest in your sky." The peak time, according to the International Meteor Organization, is January 4 at 8:00 Universal Time.
For astronomy buffs, the Quadrantid shower's radiant point "makes an approximate right angle with the Big Dipper and the bright star Arcturus." In other words, if you trace the paths of the Quadrantid meteors backward, they will appear to radiate from the said location.
Unlike the more famous Perseid or Geminid showers which has peaks of more than 24 hours, the Quadrantids peak shower time be about two hours max with an average of 120 meteors per hour.
Orlando Sentinel has the following tips for sky-gazing: 1) find a place without light pollution; 2) give your eyes about 15 minutes to adjust to the darkness; and 3) look up.