October 23, 2021

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The Quadrantid meteor shower, usually one of the best, peaks at the wrong time this weekend

4 min read

Early each January, the Quadrantid meteor shower provides one of the most intense annual meteor displays, with its brief, sharp peak — which only lasts just a few hours — coming this year overnight on Saturday and Sunday (Jan. 2-3).  

The meteors actually radiate from the northeast corner of the constellation of Boötes, the Herdsman, so we might expect them to be called the “Boötids.” But back in the late 18th century there was a constellation here called Quadrans Muralis, the “Mural or Wall Quadrant” (an astronomical instrument). It is a long-obsolete star pattern, invented in 1795 by J.J. Lalande to commemorate the instrument used to observe the stars in his catalogue.  

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