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2016 Quadrantids meteor shower

In 2016, the Quadrantids will peak on January 4. A third quarter Moon will make for good viewing conditions. Astronomers suggest that observers try their luck after midnight on January 4.

Illustration image
The Quadrantids peak around Jan 3 every year
Unlike other meteor showers, the Quadrantids tend to peak only for a few hours

The Quadrantids is the first major meteor shower of the year. It is usually active between the end of December and the second week of January, and peaks around January 3 or January 4. Unlike other meteor showers that tend to stay at their peak for about two days, the peak period of the Quadrantis is only for a few hours.

The shower owes its name to the now defunct constellation Quadrans Muralis. The constellation was left off a list of constellations drawn out by the International Astronomical Union (IAU) in 1922, but because the shower had already been named after Quadrans Muralis, its name was not changed. The Quadrantids is also sometimes called Bootids after the modern constellation, Boötes.

The Quadrantids are associated with an asteroid - the 2003 EH1. The asteroid takes about 5.5 years to orbit around the Sun.

Where to view the Quadrantids

Observers in the Northern Hemisphere are the best suited to view the Quadrantids.

While it is not necessary to look in a particular direction to enjoy a meteor shower – just lay down on the ground and look directly above and you are bound to see some meteors – astronomers suggest lying down on the ground looking towards the North and look at the sky above you to view the Quadrantids.

When to view the Quadrantids

The best time to view the Quadrantids is between nightfall and dawn.

How to view the Quadrantids

There isn’t a lot of skill involved in watching a meteor shower. Here are some tips on how to maximize your time looking for the Quadrantids:

Location in the sky

The Quadrantids meteor shower is not visible at this time of year. The best date is around Jan 4, 2016, table below is for that date:
Quadrantids meteor shower for Washington DC (Night between Jan 4 and Jan 5)
Mon 6:00 PM335°North-northwest5.8°
Mon 7:00 PM344°North-northwest1.9°
Mon 8:00 PM354°North0.1° below
Mon 10:00 PM13°North-northeast1.0°
Mon 11:00 PM22°North-northeast4.3°
Midnight Mon-Tue30°North-northeast9.4°
Tue 1:00 AM37°Northeast15.8°
Tue 2:00 AM44°Northeast23.4°
Tue 3:00 AM49°Northeast31.9°
Tue 4:00 AM53°Northeast41.0°
Tue 5:00 AM55°Northeast50.4°
Tue 6:00 AM55°Northeast60.1°
Note: times are for Jan 4, 2016.
Set your location
  • Get out of the city to a place where city and artificial lights do not impede your viewing
  • If you are out viewing the shower during its peak, you will not need any special equipment. You should be able to see the shower with your naked eyes.
  • Carry a blanket or a comfortable chair with you - viewing meteors, just like any other kind of star gazing is a waiting game, and you need to be comfortable. Plus, you may not want to leave until you can’t see the majestic celestial fireworks anymore.
  • Check the weather and moonrise and moonset timings for your location before you leave, and plan your viewing around it.

Topics: Astronomy, Meteors, Moon, Northern Hemisphere, January, December

In this Article


Meteor Showers Library

  1. October 2015: Draconids
  2. October 2015: Orionids
  3. November 2015: Leonids
  4. December 2015: Geminids
  5. December 2015: Ursids
  6. January 2016: Quadrantids
  7. April 2016: Lyrids
  8. May 2016: Eta Aquarids
  9. August 2016: Perseids

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