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Important notices

2014 Quadrantids Meteor Shower

Quadrans Muralis (Latin for mural quadrant) was an obsolete constellation locating between the constellations of Draco and Boötes. But meteor obsevers still use Quadrantids to describe the annual meteor shower occurs at early Janurary. In sprite of the relatively abundant of meteors, astronomers still has little knowledge about their parent comet. The possible candidate includes 96/P Machholz 1, C/1490 Y1(may turned into asteroid 2003EH1) .Each year, more than a hundred 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 shall be favourable. 

The occurrence time the Quadrantids maxima is as follows: 

Hong Kong Local Time Best observed in Zenithal hourly rate *
4 Janurary, 3:30 am 

Eastern Asia (including Hong Kong)

60-200 per hour 

(source : International Meteor Organization)


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 radiant will rise at 0:50. During the maxima, it is about 20 degrees from the northeast horizon. 

3. Although the radiant will locate between Draco and Boötes, do 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 traveling to the countryside can definitely appreciate more, dimmer meteors, city stargazer may be restrained from doing so by traffic, unstable weather, work or school on the next day. An open space near your living place (e.g. podium garden) with unobstructed view and no direct lights from the surrounding area will also be an ideal place for stargazing. 

5. Basically, the meteor 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 mat. 

6. You may capture the image of Quadrantids with camera. Basic equipment includes camera with long time exposure function ('Bulb' shutter). Camera lens should be set to infinity with maximum aperture. Then point the camera to Bootes or neighbouring constellations for a 5-minute exposure time at an ISO value higher than 400 and try your luck. Please avoid using flash light or white light for illumination as it may seriously affect other observers.

* ZHR (Zenithal Hourly Rate) is the hypothetical hourly rate of meteors observable under an extremely dark and wide sky with the radiant located in the zenith. As it is only an ideal rate, in practice, observed rates will be definitely lower than the derived ZHR.