By Todd Richissin
Fireworks will fly in the skies over Michigan this New Year's night, and they'll have nothing to do with the holiday.
The Quadrantids, the last meteor shower of 2013 — and the first of 2014 — began Dec. 28, with the meteor shower peak set for Jan. 3.
Look up between 2 a.m. and about 5 a.m. The weather forecast for the Detroit is sketchy for viewing the Quadrantids: Mostly cloudy skies during the peak.
NASA's list of 2014 meteor showers says to expect about 80 meteors per hour at the peak, which comes with a new moon setting early — meaning a dark sky for the show.
The radiant will be located in the northern tip of the constellation Bootes, meaning only observers living in the northern hemisphere will be able to see this meteor shower in the night sky.
More About the Quadrantids
The Quadrantids derive their name from the constellation of Quadrans Muralis (mural quadrant), which was created by the French astronomer Jerome Lalande in 1795. Located between the constellations of Bootes and Draco, Quadrans represents an early astronomical instrument used to observe and plot stars. Even though the constellation is no longer recognized by astronomers, it was around long enough to give the meteor shower – first seen in 1825 – its name.
Adolphe Quetelet of the Brussels Observatory discovered the shower in the 1830s, and shortly afterward it was noted by several other astronomers in Europe and America.
Spacedex.com says the annual Quadrantids shower has one of the highest predicted hourly rates of all the major showers, and is comparable to the two of the most lively, the August Perseids and the December Geminids.