Quadrantid Meteor Shower 2022: How, What Time To See Celestial Showcase Peak

The Quadrantid meteor shower is set to peak in the first few days of 2022. But when is the optimal time to observe the celestial showcase and what is the best way to see it?

According to the American Meteor Society (AMS,) the Quadrantids are active between December 26, 2021, and January 16, 2022.

The society says the peak of the shower will occur on the night of January 2-3.

Fortunately, this is just one day after a new moon, meaning our natural satellite will be invisible in the sky at night, and thus will not hamper observations of the meteor shower.

The Quadrantids, which are best viewed from the Northern Hemisphere, have the potential to be one of the strongest showers of the year.

But the show is often spoilt by poor winter weather in the Northern Hemisphere and the fact that the period of maximum activity is very short compared to other meteor showers, lasting only around six hours.

Your best chance to view the Quadrantids will be during the predawn hours of the peak night after around 2 a.m. local time, according to the AMS—weather permitting in your location, of course.

If the peak occurs during this time, rates of visible meteors could exceed 100 per hour in ideal viewing conditions.

For the best views, head to an area away from light pollution with dark skies and bring a lawn chair so that you can gaze up at the sky comfortably for an extended period of time. Within around 30 minutes of looking at the sky, your eyes will have adapted to the dark and it will be easier to see any meteors that do appear.

The AMS said serious observers should watch for at least an hour because activity will vary. If you only view for a short time, your observations might coincide with a lull in activity.

Quadrantid meteors appear to originate—or radiate—from an obsolete constellation known as "Quadrans Muralis," located between the constellations of Bootes and Draco. But you do not need to look at this point to see the meteors. They will be visible across all regions of the sky.

However, the best strategy to see the most activity on the peak night is to face the northeast quadrant of the sky and point your gaze about half-way up the sky. Facing in this direction means that you will (potentially) be able to see meteors shooting out of the radiant in all directions.

While the Quadrantids are active between December 26, 2021, and January 16, 2022, activity on the nights away from the peak is significantly reduced.

The Quadrantid meteor shower often produces bright fireballs, which are very bright meteors that persist for a relatively long time when compared to others.

Meteors, colloquially referred to as "shooting stars," are the streaks of light we see in the sky when tiny fragments of space debris enter the Earth's atmosphere and burn up at high speed.

Couple watching a meteor shower
Stock image showing a couple watching a meteor shower. The Quadrantid meteor shower is set to peak on the night of January 2-3, 2022, according to the American Meteor Society. iStock