Last Night’s Quadrantids
January 3, 2013
The Quadrantid meteor shower was predicted to peak last night. Even though the nearly Last Quarter Moon was high in the sky and resulted in a somewhat washed out sky, a number of Quadrantids could still be seen.
I spent an hour watching the Quads between 11:22 and 12:22 UT (4:22 and 5:22 am MST). In that time, I observed 29 Quadrantids and 5 sporadics (or more accurately non-Quadrantids since I wasn’t keeping track of any other active showers). Six of the Quadrantids were brighter than 0th magnitude and two were as bright as -3. During one ten second period, three Quadrantids were seen in rapid succession all moving in the same direction across the bowl of the Big Dipper and head of Ursa Major.
The Moon had an effect on the number of meteors that were seen. Usually my early morning limiting magnitude from my backyard is +6.1. With the Moon it is was +5.6. Plugging my numbers into the ZHR formula yields a range of ZHRs of 64, 96 and 90 for the 3 20-minute periods I was observing. Averaging the meteors over the hour yielded a ZHR of ~89. This is about normal for an average peak Quadrantid rate so the peak must have been withing a few hours of my observing time.
The year may start off with a meteor ‘bang’ but for the next few months there is little to watch meteor-wise as no major showers occur till the Summer. The next major shower to look forward to is the Perseids of mid-August.