First Meteor Shower of 2012
METEOR SHOWER: Earth is about to
pass through a stream of debris from 2003 EH1, a
comet fragment that produces the annual Quadrantid
meteor shower. Forecasters expect the shower
to peak around 07:20 UT (02:20 am EST) on Wednesday
morning, January 4th. At maximum, as many as 100
meteors/hour could emerge from a radiant near Polaris,
the north star.
Brian Emfinger of Ozark, Arkansas,
photographed this one on Jan. 2nd:
"Wow! What a really nice fireball,"
says Emfinger. "It emerged very very close
to the Quadrantid radiant, but I'm not 100% sure
it is indeed an early Quadrantid."
Even among professional researchers
there is a lot of uncertainty about the Quadrantids.
Because the shower occurs during the deep cold of
northern winter, and because its peak is brief (often
no longer than a couple of hours), this strong shower
is seldom observed. Bill Cooke of NASA's Meteoroid
Environment Office hopes 2012 will be different.
"We encourage sky watchers to be alert for
Quadrantids and send their observations to NASA
using the Meteor
Counter app," he says. "With a little
help, we just might learn something new about this