The first meteor shower of the year—the Quadrantids—arrives in early January, but will you be able to view any shooting stars? Find out …
What’s in store for 2024?
The Quadrantid Meteor Shower can be one of the year’s best displays if you happen to catch it during peak activity. will reach peak activity late at night on January 3 and into the early morning hours of January 4, 2024.
The “Quads” have a very sharp peak lasting only a few hours (though deviations of up to six hours from the predicted time frame have been noted in past years.) We recommend looking to the northeast sky at approximately 4am.
The shower’s radiant is halfway between the head of Draco and the end of the Big Dipper’s handle. Between midnight and dawn in good years, 40 or more of these moderately swift, blue meteors may be seen per hour. This year, however, glare from the waxing gibbous Moon will reduce these numbers significantly.
The Quadrantids Radiant Point
The Quadrantids appear to radiate from a spot in the sky midway between the last star in the handle of the Big Dipper and the head of Draco, the Dragon, but they officially radiate from within the boundaries of the constellation Boötes, The Herdsman. It’s rising in the northeast by around 1 a.m. local time and climbs higher until dawn. Watch whatever part of your sky is darkest, probably straight up.
So Why Aren’t They Called “The Boötids”?
We know that meteor showers are usually named for the constellation from which they appear to radiate, so why isn’t this shower named The Boötids?
The reason is that these showers were named for a constellation that no longer exists—Quadrans Muralis, the “Mural or Wall Quadrant.” It is a long-obsolete star pattern, invented in 1795 by J.J. Lalande to commemorate the instrument used to observe the stars in his catalogue. Adolphe Quetelet, of Brussels Observatory, discovered the shower in the 1830s and shortly afterward it was recognized by several astronomers in Europe and America, as well. Thus, the showers were named “Quadrantids,” the original name that continues to this day.
Join The Discussion
Have you ever seen a shooting star from the Quadrantid Meteor Shower?
Let us know in the comments below!
Joe Rao is an esteemed astronomer who writes for Space.com, Sky & Telescope, and Natural History Magazine. Mr. Rao is a regular contributor to the Farmers' Almanac and serves as an associate lecturer for the Hayden Planetarium in New York City.