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2011 Quadrantids Meteor Shower 

Quadrans Muralis (Latin for mural quadrant) was an obsolete constellation locating between the constellations of Draco and Boötes. But meteor observers still use Quadrantids to describe the annual meteor shower occuring at early January. In spite of the relatively abundant meteors, astronomers still have little knowledge about their parent comet. The possible candidate is 96/P Machholz 1 or C/1490 Y1(which may have turned into asteroid 2003EH1) .Each year, a few hundreds of meteors emerge during the maxima which lasts an hour or two. This year, the new Moon will have no interference and the observing condition will be favourable. Even though the maxima happens after sunrise, a considerable amount of meteors shall be visible before local dawn. 

The occurrence time of the Quadrantids maxima is as follows: 

Hong Kong Local Time Best observed in Maximum visual meteor rate
4 Janurary, 9:10 

Central Asia

60-200 per hour 

(source : International Meteor Organisation)


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Here are some tips for watching the Quadrantids:

  1. Despite the recent advances in the theory of prediction, the time and number of meteors at the maxima may still have substantial deviation. For those who would like to perform scientific observation, it is advised to keep watchful eyes on the sky 1 to 2 days before and after the predicted maxima. 

  2. The constellation Quadrans Muralis will rise at 0:15. During the maxima, it is about 15 degrees from the northeast horizon.

  3. Although the radiant will be in constellation Quadrans, stargazers should not look directly there. A distance between 40 to 60 degrees away is optimal. Therefore, an observation site with unobstructed view, especially the northeast, is essential.

  4. Although travelling to the countryside can definitely enable a stargazer to appreciate more meteors including the dimmer ones, city stargazers may be restrained from doing so by traffic, unstable weather, work or school on the next day. An open place next to your house with unobstructed view is also desirable.

  5. Basically, the meteors can be appreciated by naked eyes and no telescope is required. You should bring along with you a star-map, a red torch, a deck chair and a sleeping bag or blanket.

  6. You may capture the image of Quadrantids with camera. Basic equipment includes a camera with long time exposure function ('Bulb' shutter) and fast film. Camera lens should be set to infinity with maximum aperture. Then point the camera to Quadrans or neighbour constellations for a 5-minute exposure time and try your luck.

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