Meteor shower tonight: Best time to see the Quadrantids meteor shower in the UK tonight

When and how to see the Quadrantid meteor showers

Sunday, January 3, witnesses a wonderful light show rivalling any of the man-made firework displays that marked new year’s eve. The first meteor shower of 2021, known as the Quadrantids, is peaking this weekend. This means stargazers have an opportunity to this afternoon view one of the most impressive shooting star shows of the year.

The Quadrantids reliably take place at this time in early January every year.

The meteor shower is in fact the result of our planet barrelling through the dusty trail of Asteroid 2003 EH.

And although the Quadrantids actually became active late last year, now is the ideal moment to view them.

Unlike most other meteor showers which linger for three or four days, the Quadrantids only peak for a couple of nights – meaning you should look up later this afternoon.

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Recent years have seen the shooting star shower produce as many as 200 meteors every hour.

However, the Royal Observatory Greenwich in London has cautioned 2021’s astronomical event may not be quite as spectacular.

Astronomers have estimated only 60 meteors per hour can be expected this year.

When is the best time to see the 2021 Quadrantids meteor shower from the UK tonight?

London’s Royal Observatory Greenwich write on their site: “The Quadrantid meteor shower will peak between dusk and dawn on 2 to 3 January 2021.”

So unfortunately for the UK, the peak clashes with this Sunday’s daylight hours.

But Tania de Sales Marques, astronomer at Royal Observatory Greenwich, added the good news is the meteor shower should still visible overnight.

She said: “The keen observer should aim for the nights on either side – January 2 to 3 (as the meteor shower builds up) or January 3 to 4 (as it declines).”

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How to watch the 2021 Quadrantids meteor shower:

Hunting for meteors, like much of astronomy, is a game where patience is a virtue.

As a result, it is best to use a comfortable chair and to wrap up warm, as you should expect to be outside in the cold for a long time.

The 2021 Quadrantids can be viewed with the naked eye, meaning there is no need for expensive binoculars or telescopes.

However, astronomers stress you will need to allow your eyes to adjust to the dark.

The Royal Observatory Greenwich said in a statement: “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.”

Quadrantid 2021 meteor shower top facts:

The Quadrantids meteor shower’s name originates from the former constellation Quadrans Muralis, an area of the sky now part of Boötes.

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

Unlike the majority of other meteor showers that peak for approximately two days, the peak period of the Quadrantids lasts only for a couple of hours.

Astronomers encourage any photographers who capture images of the 2021 Quadrantid meteor shower to share them online.

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