These appear early January every year radiating from a region of the sky formerly occupied by a constellation called "quadrans muralis". The constellation is now a part of Bo÷tes and Ursa Major, but the meteors are still referred to as "the Quadrantids". Like the Leonids, the Quadrantids display a sharp peak in activity that lasts for just an hour or so, often during daylight hours or with interference by the moon. In 2003 the maximum activity was due to occur on the night of the 3rd/4th January ideally timed for observing from the UK with the moon near new.
Weather conditions were very favourable; skies were clear apart from some impact from auroral sky glow and a brief auroral display, but very cold. We weren't disappointed. Activity was moderate until midnight on the 3rd- 8 meteors were recorded between 23:00h and midnight- but activity picked up as the night wore on. Between 04:00 and 05:00h on the 4th 29 meteors were counted, one of these was a sporadic. In some minutes two or three meteors were noted making for an exciting spectacle in the cold and frosty Scottish countryside. Generally the meteors were easy to watch as they were much slower than the very swift Leonids and a few left a green train behind.
There were a few bright (mag 0 and brighter) events. The most memorable were mag -2 events through Leo Minor at 21:06 on the 3rd and another through Hercules at 05:12 on the 4th.
Although I had taken about 50 images during the display only one recorded a quadrantid of any significance!
Here is the single image taken on
the morning of the 4th of January 2003.
|A bright meteor streaks away from the radiant through Draco near q Draconis. The head of Draco is near bottom left of frame.|