Jan 1/2 Meteors and the Quadrantids

Last night was almost a exact copy of the previous night with a similar number of meteors being detected.

Tonight marks the peak of the Quadrantid meteor shower. Unlike most major showers that have broad peaks which cover many nights, the Quadrantids have a sharp peak that only lasts a few hours. As a result, whether you see a few Quadrantids a night or a few Quadrantids an hour depends on whether you catch the peak.

This year there are 2 predictions for the peak. Based on past Quadrantid peaks, the International Meteor Organization predicts a peak on January 3 at 12h 50m UT. That’s 5:50 am MST or 4:50 am PST. If this prediction is correct, the Quadrantids will be best over western North America and probably pretty good for all of North America. You can also monitor the activity level of the QUAs at the IMO’s ZHR Live site.

A second prediction is based on work by Jeremie Veubaillon and published in a chart in Peter Jenniskens’s book “Meteor Showers and Their Parent Comets”. It predicts an earlier peak on January 3 at ~1:00 UT. That’s in the early evening for North America at a time when the shower will not be easily visible. The Veubaillon prediction is based on all of the Quadrantids having been released during the break-up of a comet in 1490.

If you live in a reasonably dark place in North America and can brave the cold, wake up 2 hours before sunrise. You should be able to spot a dozen or more Quadrantids per hour.

Obs  Date (UT)   TotTime TOT SPO ANT COM QUA
TUS  2009-01-02  12h 08m  28  19  2   3   4

TUS – Camera in Tucson operated by Carl Hergenrother
SDG – Camera in San Diego operated by Bob Lunsford
TotTime – Total amount of time each camera looked for meteors
TOT – Total number of meteors detected
SPO – Sporadics (meteors not affiliated with any particular meteor shower)
ANT – Antihelions
COM – Coma Berenicids
QUA – Quadrantids


  1. Carl, I operate one of the Sandia meteor cameras here in Tucson, and there is a second such camera in Sierra Vista. The two of us would be very interested in talking with you. Could I ask you to contact me via email?

  2. Thank you. I live just outside of Seattle. We have been lacking of late for a clear night. This morning I awoke at aprox. 0440 and looked outside at the sky. The Meteor shower was a very nice suprise. I am not a follower of events and just a babe to this subject. I found your site and it told me what I had seen. Thank you for providing this very useful information.
    The meteor shower was just wonderful to see.

    1. Hi Robin,

      I’m glad you were able to enjoy the meteor shower last night and that this blog was able to answer some of your questions.

      It turns out last night was a great night for watching meteors.

      – Carl

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