The annual Quadrantids can be one of the strongest showers of the year, unfortunately they are one of the most difficult to observe. The main factor is the peak of the shower only has a duration of about 4-6 hours. If you are on the part of the planet that intersects the peak, you have the chance to see a strong shower, otherwise it is reasonably weak. The reason the peak is so short is due to the shower’s thin stream of particles and the fact the Earth crosses the stream at a perpendicular angle.
Another challenge is in order to see the Quadrantids at their best you have to be up in the early morning hours, when the radiant lies its highest in your sky, around 4 am. Early January weather is also a major factor, especially in Arkansas, as it is usually cloudy more times than not, this time of year. If it does clear, then it can also be bitterly cold, making observations uncomfortable at best.
THIS YEAR’S SHOWER
Quadrantid meteors can be seen from December 22 through January 17, however rates are extremely low away from the peak. For 2019 the peak occurs Friday morning Jan. 4th with the maximum expected to favor Europe and Northern Africa. If the predictions hold true, Arkansans and others observers in the US can expect around 25 Quadrantids per hour at best in the hours before sunrise. The moon will not be a factor on January 4th as it is lost in dawn’s glare, too close to the sun to be seen.
The name “Quadrantids” comes from Quadrans Muralis, a former constellation created in 1795 by the French astronomer Jérôme Lalande that is now part of Boötes.