The Quadrantids: The Year’s First Meteor Shower

The first meteor shower of the year, the Quadrantids, peaks January 3! See what's in store for this year's shower, how they got that name, and when and where to watch!

On January 3, 2022, the first meteor shower of the year arrives –the Quadrantids. But will you be able to view any shooting “stars”?

The Quadrantids Radiant Point

These meteors 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.

The Boötids Constellation

So Why Aren’t They Called “The Bootids”?

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.

What’s in store for 2022?

This year’s Quadrantid meteor shower is predicted to coincide with a New Moon. That’s good news as the sky will be dark and free from any moonlight that would otherwise hinder meteor watchers.

However, in 2022 the Quadrantids, which are known their intense and sharply peaked activity, peak at 4 p.m. EST and 1 p.m. PST (daylight across North America).  So the best part of this display will be missed for those of us living in the Western Hemisphere.  It will, however, be dark over eastern Asia.  


by Astronomer Joe Rao.

This article was published by the staff at Farmers' Almanac. Do you have a question or an idea for an article? Contact us!

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PJH

Cant wait to see this! We will be out there tomorrow night watching the show!

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