NASA's Quadrantid meteor shower viewing tips

NASA offers these fine tips for viewing the first meteor shower of the year, January 3rd.


  1. Where are the tips?  The only “tips” I see at the link are (1) it happens early in the morning on January 3 (what hours in what time zone?) and (2) you can only see it north of 51 degrees south latitude (but isn’t that just about all the land in the world except Antarctica and the southern tip of South America?).

    1. NASA updated the post to include the tip: Look straight up. They still don’t indicate a particular direction or a set of constellations the shower may be flying past.

      1. Constellations are markers for what’s happening in space. For instance, the radiant for this shower is in Boötes, so the meteors will point outward from there.

        But the meteors that you see aren’t in space any more, they’re the ones that have hit the atmosphere near where you are. So you don’t use constellations to find them any more than you would clouds. You look up.

        This sort of principle applies to the time, too – as a rule, meteors are best a couple of hours after midnight in your local time, when your part of the earth is oriented the right way.

        1. Thanks for your explanation. I will note though that during the Geminids orienting oneself toward the southern sky in the northern hemisphere yielded the best results. In that instance Orion was a good constellation reference point.

          1. That shows the radiant point. That’s where the meteors trace back to, but they’re not going to be concentrated around it in the sky.

            Here’s a meteor shower from the side:

            / / / / / / Meteors
            _______o_________ Observer

            Perspective means the lines look like they come from one imaginary point, but you should still look for them scattered overhead.

            Edit: in fact looking toward the radiant has a negative consequence, the meteor trails will all be very short.

          2. For practical purposes looking toward the N/NE sky between 12AM-sunrise will yield the best results in the northern hemisphere. That’s the finest tip I can come up with. If one looks elsewhere in the sky, one will not observe the phenomena.

  2. I got a photo of one last year:

    It wasn’t the most amazing meteor shower, but it was a good experience. Being on a beach in the freezing cold at 2am looking up at the stars is not something I do often.

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