First meteor shower of 2015 peaks Saturday night

The annual Quadrantid meteor shower is popular with star watchers, who can see up to 80 meteors an hour, NASA says. Plus, Quadrantids are known for their 'fireball meteors,' which are brighter and last longer than an average meteor streak.

Jimmy Westlake/NASA
Quadrantid fireball.

Grab a coat and head outside: The first meteor shower of the new year is set to peak tonight. 

The annual Quadrantid meteor shower is popular with star watchers, who can see up to 80 meteors an hour, NASA says. Plus, Quadrantids are known for their “fireball meteors,” which are brighter and last longer than an average meteor streak.

This year, however, a bright, near-full moon is complicating matters for those who would like to wish on a shooting star – as are forecasts of cloudy skies in the eastern United States. Central and Southwest stargazers should still have a clear view, The Washington Post reports.

The Quadrantids, which NASA says are the remnants of asteroid 2003 EH1, get their name from the now obsolete Quadrans Muralis constellation, identified by French astronomer Jerome Lalande in 1795. The first Quadrantid meteor shower was reported in 1825.

Some astronomers hypothesize that the asteroid, discovered in 2003 by NASA astronomer Peter Jenniskens, actually may be a piece of an “extinct” comet.

“Some astronomers say that this asteroid is really a piece of an old, 'extinct' comet, perhaps a comet that was recorded by Chinese, Korean and Japanese observers during the years 1490-91,” writes

The Quadrantids aren’t the only items of interest visible in the night sky this weekend. Comet Lovejoy, which was discovered in August, is visible with binoculars and, for those far away from city lights, the naked eye, the Monitor’s Pete Spotts reports. The comet, which is expected to make its closest approach to Earth on Jan. 7, is rising higher in the northern sky. By Jan. 7, it will be appearing to the right of the bottom half of Orion’s bow, above the constellation Eridanus. 

To view Saturday night’s meteor shower, NASA suggests finding a spot away from street lights. 

“Lay flat on your back with your feet facing northeast and look up, taking in as much of the sky as possible. In less than 30 minutes in the dark, your eyes will adapt and you will begin to see meteors,” NASA says. “Be patient – the show will last until dawn, so you have plenty of time to catch a glimpse.” 

Oh, and bundle up out there, star watchers. It’s January, after all.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.
Real news can be honest, hopeful, credible, constructive.
What is the Monitor difference? Tackling the tough headlines – with humanity. Listening to sources – with respect. Seeing the story that others are missing by reporting what so often gets overlooked: the values that connect us. That’s Monitor reporting – news that changes how you see the world.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to

QR Code to First meteor shower of 2015 peaks Saturday night
Read this article in
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today