Thursday, January 3, 2008

Quadrantid meteor shower

...METEOR SHOWER: Earth is about to pass through a stream of dusty debris from near-Earth asteroid 2003 EH1, producing the annual Quadrantid meteor shower. Forecasters expect a brief but intense peak of 50+ meteors per hour over Earth's northern hemisphere sometime between 0200 UTC and 0700 UTC on Friday morning, Jan. 4th. (Subtract 5 hours to convert UTC to EST.) The timing favors observers in the eastern USA, Europe and western parts of Asia. Winter storms frequently hide this shower from observers on the ground. To avoid such problems, a team of astronomers led by Peter Jenniskens of the SETI Institute plan to fly a plane above the clouds where they can train their cameras on the Quadrantids. Their data may reveal whether asteroid 2003 EH1 is the fragment of a broken-apart comet. Visit for sky maps and more information...

This is one of my favorite showers. I can't help calling it my 'birthday' shower, as it falls close to that date. Years ago, I unexpectedly saw an outburst of nearly a dozen meteors falling within a few seconds of each other. Sadly for me this year, I have to pass. I am getting over a cold, it's in the teens outside (brrr!) and I have to be up early in the morning. So I don't get to freeze my balls off like a good science geek this year. But try to get out and enjoy this one, it can really pack a punch.

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