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Quadrantids Information

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General Info  

How can I best view the Quadrantids meteor shower?

If you live near a brightly lit city, drive away from the glow of city lights and toward the constellation from which the meteors will appear to radiate. For example, drive north to view the Quadrantids. Driving south may lead you to darker skies, but the glow will dominate the northern horizon, where Gemini rises. Perseid meteors will appear to "rain" into the atmosphere from the constellation Gemini, which rises in the southeast around 11 p.m. in mid-October.

After you've escaped the city glow, find a dark, secluded spot where oncoming car headlights will not periodically ruin your sensitive night vision. Look for state or city parks or other safe, dark sites. Once you have settled at your observing spot, lay back or position yourself so the horizon appears at the edge of your peripheral vision, with the stars and sky filling your field of view. Meteors will instantly grab your attention as they streak by.

A bright meteor may leave a ghostly glowing trail after it has passed. The technical name for this is a train - i.e. the fast moving streak is the meteor's trail and a glowing remnant of the trail is known as the meteor's train.

How do I know the sky is dark enough to see meteors?

If you can see each star of the Little Dipper, your eyes have "dark adapted," and your chosen site is probably dark enough. Under these conditions, you will see plenty of meteors. Circle October 14th on your calendar, for early that morning a moderate to possibly very strong showing of annual Perseid meteor shower is likely. The very strong display will favor those living across much of the Northern Hemisphere.  In this region, meteor rates might briefly rise to a few hundred per hour (the time frame for the most intense activity is anticipated sometime around 21:40 GMT). 

A far more modest, but still potentially enjoyable display of a few dozen Geminid meteors per hour is expected to favor North America. In the United States and Canada, eastern observers will be particularly well-positioned for maximum activity, expected sometime between 3:30 and 5:30 a.m., when the radiant of the Geminid shower will be well up in the dark southeastern sky.


Moon forecast for December 13th

Near New Moon. Quadrantids shower gazing conditions will be ideal. You may observe even the faintest Quadrantids meteors.


Quadrantids meteor shower fact file

First apeared: 902 AD

Name origin: Appears to radiate from the constellation Leo.

Parent: 55P/Tempel-Tuttle (comet)

Active start date: November 10th

ZHR/Rate on peak: 30 per hour

Active end date: November 21st


Past Quadrantids Showers (Videos)

Quadrantids 1
Quadrantids 2
Quadrantids 3
General Info Quadrantids History

History of Quadrantids coming soon!


The Quadrantids: 1994 and beyond

Stay tuned as the Spacedex write up is currently in progress.

General Info

General information about Quadrantids

The first major shower of 2016 is the Quadrantids meteor shower. This annual shower has one of the highest predicted hourly rates of all the major showers, and is comparable to the two of the most lively, the August Perseids and the December Geminids. This celestial event is active from December 28th through January 12th and peaks on the morning of January 4th. In relation to meteor showers, the peak is defined as the moment of maximum activity when the most meteors can be seen by the observer.

While the plus side of this annual shower is its ability to produce fireballs, and its high hourly rates, the downside is its short peak. Quadrantids has an extremely narrow peak, occurring over just a few short hours. The Quadrantids are also well known for producing fireballs, meteors that are exceptionally bright. These meteors can also, at times, generate persistent trails (also identified as trains).

Those living in the northern hemisphere have an opportunity to experience a much better view of the Quadrantids, as the constellation Boötes never makes it above the horizon in the southern hemisphere. This is great for those living in North America, much of Europe, and the majority of Asia.

Unfortunately, those of you living in Australia and lower portions of South America will have a difficult time observing the Quadrantids. Observers in higher latitudes will have better gazing conditions, but nevertheless will need to be wary of cloud cover, as conditions are typically cloudy during this time of year.

The Quadrantids in 2016

This year, the Waning Crescent (27% full) will coincide with the peak of the Quadrantids meteor shower. TWhile the light of the moon may reduce the quantity of meteors you’ll be able to see, you should still be able to observe all but the faintest meteors. Those willing to patiently wait it out in the cold (or warmth, for those in warmer environments) will be treated to the very first major meteor shower of 2016.

The radiant of a meteor shower is the point in the sky from where the meteors appear to come (or radiate) from. In the case of Quadrantids, its radiant lies within the now extinct constellation Quadrans Muralis. Unlike all the other major annual showers, this one is named after a constellation which longer exists. For example, the Perseids meteor shower, occurring in August, is named after the constellation Perseus. The Geminids meteor shower, occurring in December, is named after the constellation Gemini.

The constellation Quadrands Muralis was made up of a faint group of stars between the top of Boötes and the handle of the Big Dipper. Quadrands Muralis is now part of the constellation Boötes, thus making Boötes the radiant of the Quadnrantids meteor shower. To find the location of the radiant, we recommend you first find Polaris (a middling-bright star, also known as the North Star) and observe in close proximity to that area. For more specificity, it lies between the end of the handle of the Big Dipper and the four-sided figure of stars marking the head of the constellation Draco.

Particles from a minor planet, potentially hundreds to see

While this wintery spectacle appears to radiate from a constellation, they are actually caused by the Earth passing through the dust particles of the minor planet 2003 EH1. Every January, Earth passes into a trail of dust left by this minor planet, and as a result, all the dust and debris burning up in our atmosphere, produces the spectacle known as the Quadrantids meteor shower, or what are popularly recognized as “shooting stars”.

There's no danger to sky watchers, though. The fragile grains disintegrate long before they reach the ground. While the meteors are certainly bright, they are typically not much larger than a grain of sand. However, as they travel at immense speeds, these tiny particles put on an exciting show.

During the 3rd of January, shower rates will be a portion of what they could be due to the radiant lying low in the northwestern sky. On average, and under clear skies, observers should see 40 to 60 meteors per hour. However, every so often, these rates can exceed up to 120 meteors per hour in dark-sky locations. In ideal condition—no cloud cover, precipitation, city lights, and no moonlight, the Quadrantids meteor shower should host a spectacular viewing experience!

How do I know the sky is dark enough to see meteors?

If you happen to live near a brightly lit city, if possible, we recommend that you drive away from the glow of city light. After you’ve escaped the glow of the city, find a dark, safe, and possibly isolated spot where oncoming vehicle headlights will not occasionally ruin your sensitive night vision.

Look for state or city parks or other safe, dark sites. Once you have settled down at your observation spot, face toward the northeastern portion of the heavens. This way you can have the Quadrantid’s radiant within your field of view. If you can see each star of the Little Dipper, your eyes have "dark adapted," and your chosen site is probably dark enough. Under these conditions, you will see plenty of meteors.

For many meteor showers it is often recommended to look straight up, but for this year’s Quadrantids we advise that observers face as low as possible toward the horizon without being looking at the ground. In other words, have the bottom of your field of view on the horizon. While you can still catch meteors while looking straight up, you will have an improved opportunity to observe more by looking toward the horizon. Meteors will grab your attention as they streak by!


Moon forecast for January 3rd

Waning Crescent Moon. Quadrantids shower gazing conditions will be good. The moon may obstruct some Quadrantids meteors.


Quadrantids shower fact file

First apeared: Early-1830's

Name origin: Appears inside the constellation Boötes.

Parent: 2003 EH1 (minor planet)

Radiant positon: 230° (RA) +49° (DEC)

Active start date: December 28th

Peak date: January 4th (1300 UTC)

ZHR/Rate on peak: 40-120 per hour

Active end date: January 12th


Videos of past Quadrantids showers

Quadrantids 1
Quadrantids 2
Quadrantids 3


Data in visuals



Viewing locations and times to view the Quadrantids meteor shower

Europe Canada United States Central America
View European countries View Canadian cities View U.S. states View the countries


Angola Botswana Ciaro Egypt

Ghana Nigeria South Africa Zimbabwe



Afghanistan Armenia Azerbaijan Bahrain

Bangladesh Bhutan Brunei Cambodia

China Georgia Hong Kong India

Indonesia Iran Iraq Israel

Japan Kazakhstan Korea Kuwait

Kyrgyzstan Laos Lebanon Malaysia

Maldives Mongolia Nepal Oman

Pakistan Philippines Qatar Russia

Saudi Arabia Singapore Sri Lanka Syria

Taiwan Thailand Turkey United Arab Emirates



Sydney Albury Liverpool New Castle

Orange Wollongong Lithgow Perth

Melbourne Brisbane Adelaide Darwin



South America

Argentina Bolivia Brazil Chile

Colombia Ecuador Falkland Islands French Guiana

Guyana Paraguay Peru Suriname

Uruguay Venezuela    


The Caribbean

Antigua and Barbuda Aruba Bahamas Barbados

Cayman Islands Cuba Dominica Dominican Republic

Grenada Guadaloupe Haiti Jamaica

Martinique Puerto Rico Saint Barthelemy Saint Kitts & Nevis

Saint Lucia Trinidad & Tobago Turks & Caicos Virgin Islands


Having trouble finding a location? Search here:


Meteor Shower Tip

Meteor showers are named after the constellation which they appear to be falling from.

Quadrantids Tip

Keep in mind that any local light pollution or obstructions like tall trees or buildings will reduce your making a meteor sighting. Give your eyes time to dark-adapt before observing.

Your name in the stars

Guide to photographing meteor showers

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