Quadrantid meteor shower 2020: When and where to see it in the UK

What is it, when is it and where can I see the Quadrantid meteor shower this year?

The Quadrantid meteor shower will peak between dusk and dawn on 3-4 January 2020

The total period of this shower is from 28 December – 12 January. 

What is the Quadrantid meteor shower?

The Quadrantid meteor shower is among the most active meteor showers, and has been known to produce around 50-100 meteors per hour on a clear night. Meteors are pieces of debris which enter our planet’s atmosphere at speeds of up to 70 kilometres per second, vaporising and causing the streaks of light we call meteors.

The Quadrantids is known for its sharp peak of a few hours and the meteors appear to radiate from the constellation Boötes, near the Big Dipper. However, the actual source of the shooting stars is either an asteroid or a comet – we’re not quite sure which. Peter Jenniskens has suggested that the parent body of the Quadrantids could be the asteroid 2003 EH1, although this may in fact be the same object as the comet C/1490 Y1.

Find out the difference between an asteroid, a comet, a meteor, and a meteorite.


When is the Quadrantid meteor shower?

SHOWER NAME

DATE OF MAXIMUM

NORMAL LIMITS

PEAK RATE/HOUR

DESCRIPTION

Quadrantids

3-4 January

28 Dec - 12 Jan

60

Sharp peak, many meteors

Find out more about other meteors and meteorites around the year

How can I watch the Quadrantids meteor shower?

Hunting for meteors, like the rest of astronomy, is a waiting game, so it's best to bring a comfy chair to sit on and to wrap up warm as you could be outside for a while. They can be seen with the naked eye so there's no need for binoculars or a telescope, though you will need to allow your eyes to adjust to the dark. 

How to photograph meteor showers

 

Where is best to watch the Quadrantid meteor shower?

For the best conditions, you want to find a safe location away from street lights and other sources of light pollution. The meteors can be seen in all parts of the sky, so it’s good to be in a wide open space where you can scan the night sky with your eyes.

If you manage to get any pictures of the Quadrantid meteor shower we'd love to see them. You can find us on Facebook or Twitter

Quadrantids facts

Image of Bootes constellation

  • The shower gets its name from the former constellation Quadrans Muralis which is now part of Boötes.
  • Observers in the Northern Hemisphere are the best suited to view the Quadrantids.
  • Unlike other meteor showers that tend to stay at their peak for about two days, the peak period of the Quadrantids is only for a few hours.