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January begins with the Quadrantids, one of the fastest and most powerful meteor showers of the year.
The shower is expected to reach its peak overnight between January 3 and 4 American Meteor Society. Skygazers in the Northern Hemisphere can best see the shower between the late hours of Wednesday night and early Thursday.
Meteors are leftover pieces of broken-up asteroids and comet particles that scatter in dusty trails orbiting the Sun. Every year, Earth passes through debris trails, and bits of dust and rock form colorful fiery displays called meteor showers as they disintegrate in Earth's atmosphere.
The quadruple shower is difficult to notice due to its short peak of six hours. The peak has a limited duration compared to most meteor showers, which peak over two days, because the shower contains only a thin stream of particles and the Earth passes through the denser concentration of those particles at a perpendicular angle, according to NASA.
The forecast for the peak of the shower is from 4 a.m. to 10 a.m. ET (9 a.m. to 3 p.m. UTC), but meteors will be visible for hours before that. the The American Meteor Society recommends Watch for meteors from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. local time for those across North America.
The earlier time favors those along the east coast of North America, and the later time is more suitable for observers in Hawaii and Alaska. The Quadrantids are usually not visible in the Southern Hemisphere because the shower's radiant point does not rise that high in their pre-dawn sky.
Checks Location time and date To find out your chances of seeing the event.
The peak can include more than 100 visible meteors per hour. You may even catch a glimpse of some fireballs during a meteor shower, which are bright explosions of light and color attached to larger particles that stick around longer than typical meteor streaks, according to NASA.
Xue Bing/Custphoto/Future Publishing/Getty Images
The Quadrantid meteor shower is seen in the night sky over the city of Korla in Bayingolin Mongolian Autonomous Prefecture, China, on January 4, 2022.
Watch the sky from north to northeast. Stand or sit with the moon behind you from 2 a.m. local time onward and watch the sky for at least an hour, advises the American Meteor Society.
Visibility will depend on any stormy winter weather in the Northern Hemisphere. The moon will be approximately 51% full, which may affect the view of the shower, but the association recommends trying to block the moon with a tree or building.
If you live in an urban area, you may want to drive somewhere that is not full of bright city lights. If you can find an area unaffected by light pollution, meteors can be seen every two minutes from late evening until dawn.
Find an open area with a wide view of the sky. Make sure you have a chair or blanket so you can look up straight. And give your eyes about 20 to 30 minutes to adjust to the dark — without looking at your phone — so the meteors will be easier to spot.
If the name of the meteor shower sounds strange, it's probably because it doesn't sound like it's related to a constellation. This is because the Quadrantids constellation of the same name no longer exists – at least, not as a known constellation.
The Quadrans Muralis constellation, which was first observed in 1795 between Boötes and Draco, is no longer included in the International Astronomical Union's list of modern constellations because it is considered obsolete and is not used as a landmark for celestial navigation anymore, according to EarthSky.
Like the Geminid meteor shower, the Quadrantids come from a mysterious asteroid or “rocky comet,” not an icy comet, which is unusual. This particular asteroid is 2003 EH1, which takes 5.52 years to complete one orbit around the sun and is 2 miles (3.2 kilometers) across.
But astronomers believe a second object, comet 96P/Machholz, may be contributing to the precipitation, according to EarthSky. The comet revolves around the sun every 5.3 years.
Scientists believe that a larger comet was gravitationally bound in a short orbit by the Sun around 2000 BC. The comet left behind meteors for years before it broke up sometime between the years 100 and 950. As a result, the comet left behind numerous celestial offspring known collectively as the Machholz complex, which includes the parent bodies of the quadrupedal meteor shower, comet 96P/Machholz and the asteroid. 2003 EH1 as well as two different comet populations and eight meteor showers, according to EarthSky.
After the Quadrantids, there is a bit of a lull in meteor shower activity, and the next event won't occur until April.
Lerides: April 21-22
Eta Aquarius: May 4-5
Buckeyes in the southern delta: July 29-30
Alpha Capricorn: July 30-31
Perseids: August 11-12
The Dragons: October 7-8
Orionides: October 20-21
Southern supplies: November 4-5
Northern Supply: November 11-12
Leonids: November 17-18
Gemini: December 13-14
Ursids: December 21-22
Full moons and supermoons
There will be 12 full moons during 2024, and lunar events in September and October will also be considered a supermoon, according to EarthSky.
Definitions of a supermoon can vary, but the term generally refers to a full moon that is closer to Earth than usual and therefore appears larger and brighter in the night sky. Some astronomers say this phenomenon occurs when the Moon is within 90% of perigee – its closest approach to Earth in orbit.
Here is the full moon of 2024:
January 25: Wolf Moon
February 24: Snow Moon
March 25: Worm Moon
April 23: Pink Moon
May 23: Venus Moon
June 21: Strawberry Moon
July 21: Pac Moon
August 19: Sturgeon Moon
September 17: Harvest Moon
October 17: Hunter's Moon
November 15: Beaver Moon
December 15: Cold Moon
Solar and lunar eclipse
Multiple eclipses will occur in 2024, including two types of lunar eclipses and two types of solar eclipses, according to the Emirates News Agency. Old Farmer's Almanac.
The most unexpected of these events is A total solar eclipse will occur on April 8Which will be visible to those in Mexico, the United States, and Canada. A total solar eclipse occurs when the moon passes between the Earth and the sun, completely blocking the face of the sun.
Those located in the path of totality, or locations where the Moon's shadow will completely cover the Sun, will witness a total solar eclipse. People outside the path of totality will still be able to see a partial solar eclipse, in which the Moon obscures only part of the Sun's face.
A total solar eclipse will not be visible across the contiguous United States again until August 2044.
An annular solar eclipse will occur in the sky on October 2 over parts of South America. This type of eclipse is similar to a total solar eclipse, except that the Moon is located at the farthest point in its orbit from the Earth, so it cannot completely block the Sun. Instead, an annular solar eclipse creates a “ring of fire” in the sky where the fiery sunlight surrounds the moon's shadow.
Meanwhile, a penumbral lunar eclipse will be visible to many across Europe, northern and eastern Asia, Australia, Africa, North America and South America from March 24-25.
A lunar eclipse, which makes the Moon appear dark or dim, occurs when the Sun, Earth, and Moon line up so that the Moon passes into Earth's shadow. A penumbral lunar eclipse is more subtle and occurs when the Moon moves through the Earth's outer shadow or penumbra.
A partial lunar eclipse, when the Earth moves between the sun and the moon without being completely aligned, will appear over Europe and most parts of Asia, Africa, North America and South America in the period from September 17 to 18.
Checks Location time and date To find out when each of these eclipses will appear.
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