KINGMAN – Those who didn’t get their fill of fireworks on New Year’s Eve will soon have another chance to look at the sky in awe, as the first meteor shower of 2019 is expected to peak Thursday evening and continue into early Friday morning.
According to www.accuweather.com, the Quadrantids meteor shower will take place during the new moon, which means a darker sky and in turn a better viewing experience.
“It is going to be a good year because the moon is going to be such a small slice that the skies will be dark,” said Ron Nyberg of the High Desert Astronomy Club. “So that is definitely going to make them look brighter.”
All of Arizona, including Kingman, is expected to have “good” viewing conditions for the meteor shower. The International Meteor Organization predicts the peak of the shower to be at 2 a.m. coordinated universal time, which is around 7 p.m. in Kingman, according to a conversion chart at https://earthsky.org. The shower is expected to run into the early hours of Friday morning, so keep an eye on the sky.
EarthSky, at https://earthsky.org/, says meteors will come from the northern sky with the radiant point making a right angle with the Big Dipper and the star Arcturus.
“The radiant point for the Quadrantids is easy to find as it sits near the Big Dipper, one of the most well-known constellations in the sky,” wrote AccuWeather meteorologist Brian Lada in the release. “However, meteors will be visible in all areas of the sky, not just near the Big Dipper.”
So what is the history of this yearly meteor shower?
“The name Quadrantids comes from the constellation Quadrans Muralis (Mural Quadrant), created by the French astronomer Jerome Lalande in 1795,” wrote Bruce McClure on EarthSky. “This now-obsolete constellation was located between the constellations of Bootes the Herdsman and Draco the Dragon.”
He continues by saying that in 2003, an astronomer by the name of Peter Jenniskens “tentatively identified” the parent body of the Quadrantids as rocky-bodied asteroid 2003 EH1, as opposed to an icy comet. However, EarthSky also notes that asteroid could be the same object as one observed by Chinese, Japanese and Korean astronomers some 500 years ago.
“This is from an asteroid, not a comet,” Nyberg said. “Comets are chunks of ice, asteroids are actually rock, dirt and debris. That generally makes for a little more color because you have minerals in them instead of just moisture. And there is that random chance that some of this stuff will have a landfall.”