2009 Quadrantid Shower

2009 Quadrantid CompositeThe annual Quadrantid meteor shower occurs when debris from an asteroid or comet intercepts the Earth at a high velocity (41 km/s, 92,000 mph). The parent body of the stream has recently been proposed to be the minor planet 2003 EH1, which is itself probably a burned out comet. Meteor showers are named for the constellation of their radiant. The Quadrantids are unusual in being named for Quadrans Muralis, a constellation name that is no longer in use. This shower is sometimes called the Boötids because the radiant is found in the constellation Boötes.

This is a composite image of 130 meteors recorded between sunset on January 2 and sunrise on January 3. Although the image was collected over about eight hours, most of the meteors occurred during just a couple of hours (see the frequency plot below). Because of this, and also because of its high declination, the radiant of the shower is very apparent in this image. During this time of year sporadic meteor activity is high as well, so a few of these meteors are not Quadrantids.

The meteors in this image were much brighter than they appear, since there was a layer of thin clouds present all night.

Long string-like images are stars or planets captured as they traveled across the sky over many hours.

Fireball videos:

This chart plots the total meteor activity over the evening of January 2/3. The radiant rose in Colorado at about UT 05:00, and astronomical twilight began at UT 12:45, extending to dawn at UT 14:20. The hourly rate is a simple raw count, uncorrected for ZHR. These data clearly show a significant peak in activity between UT 12:00 and 13:00. This corresponds well with the predicted maximum of UT 12:50.

2009 Quadrantid Activity

This all sky radiant map clearly shows the radiant concentration around the nominal RA= 230°, dec=+49° (measured apparent radiant RA=229 ± 3°, dec=49 ± 2°). The shower's antiradiant is also apparent, and is seen because meteors that occur when the radiant is low may appear to originate on the opposite side of the sky.

2009 Quadrantid Radiant

© Copyright 2009, Chris L Peterson. All rights reserved.