If predictions are correct, the Quadrantid Meteor Shower will peak overnight tonight, at roughly 2 a.m. EST (11 p.m. tonight on the West Coast). To view this shower, find a dark (and safe) location with a clear view of the sky, dress warmly and face the Northeast. The radiant of this shower is roughly midway between Ursa Major (the Big Bear or Dipper) and Hercules. This area of the sky does not rise until about 11 p.m. local time, so for western observers, the radiant will be quite low at the predicted time of peak, and there will be a bright Moon in the sky (although in roughly the opposite quadrant). The Moon will set at roughly 3 a.m. local time, so more eastern observers (where the predicted peak comes at about 2 a.m. local time) are favored in that respect.
You must allow your eyes to adapt to the darkness for about 15 minutes before you can expect to see any meteors, so be patient. Meteor showers are notorious, not just because they are hard to predict in terms of the exact time, but also because their intensity can vary greatly from year to year. By some accounts, this year could provide a very good display of the Quadrantids. However, local lighting conditions, weather and the presence of a bright Moon all will affect what you see.
Of course, you are welcome to email me, but try to do so earlier enough for me to respond. I may be online only occasionally after about 6 p.m. MST tonight.
At any time there could be unpredictable events such as auroral displays. Please check the websites mentioned below and, again, feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
P.S. For your planning purposes, the next significant meteor shower is the Lyrids, on the night of April 21-22. Also, I am compiling a list of significant events for the rest of the year, and I will let you know when that is finished.
P.P.S. My long time friend Kim Long has produced a wonderful resource called The 2012 Moon Almanac with everything you could want to know about the Moon, including a 2012 Moon Calendar Card showing all the phases of the Moon for the year. You can learn about the “Supermoon” on May 5, the “Blue Moon” on August 31, the eclipses in 2012 and much more. Kim is author of The Moon Book and has produced The Moon Calendar for years. Check it out here: The 2012 Moon Almanac.
|Need even more info? Hear are some links for you.EarthSky.com
North American Skies Twitter page:
North American Skies Skywatcher
Satellites, ISS passage predictions and more
And on Facebook, Northern Skies:
Good luck and clear skies
Remember, “It’s all over your head!”
Larry Sessions, Denver
Feel free to email your questions.