Quadrantid meteor shower peaks this weekend and other celestial events in 2021

Katie Ramirez
January 3, 2021

The Quadrantids are particularly famed for their brighter-than-usual "fireball" meteors.

While some meteor showers peak for days, the Quadrantids have a window of just a few hours and have been known to not always show up right on schedule.

"It's going to peak around 4 a.m. Toronto time on January 3 and the best time to see these without the moon is before dawn", said Vaughan, a public outreach and education specialist with the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada (RASC), Toronto Centre.

According to NASA, Quadrantid meteor shower will be best viewed in the Northern Hemisphere during the night and pre-dawn hours of January 2 into January 3.

Meteors are pieces of rocky debris that enter Earth's atmosphere at speeds of up to 40 miles per second, leaving streaks of light that we refer to as "falling stars".

According to EarthSky, your chances of seeing shooting stars are greater between 2:00 a.m. and dawn on January 3.

Quadrantids meteor showers will illuminate the night sky over the New Year weekend with up to 200 shooting stars every hour.

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This year's show might not be as flashy as past years due to the moonlight, however there could be as many as 100 meteors whizzing through the sky every hour during its peak, according to AccuWeather.

There's also the challenge of the waning gibbous moon, which will be 84% full tonight, making it harder to spot the less-prominent meteors.

The Royal Observatory Greenwich said in a statement: "For the best conditions, you want to find a safe location away from street lights and other sources of light pollution".

As NASA explained, skywatchers only have to lie flat and look up at the sky.

"An alternative name for the Quadrantids is the Bootids since the meteors appear to radiate from the modern constellation of Bootes", NASA says. French astronomer Jerome Lalande created this constellation in 1795.

NASA said that the Quadrantids originate from an asteroid known as 2003 EH1.

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