Welcome to SkyTours with Derrick! If you've ever found yourself under the night sky wondering what that thing is, well, you've come to the right place to find out. I'll provide regular postings of just what's available for you to see at this time of this year, including planets, stars, constellations and my favorite - satellites! I'll also welcome your suggestions for what to add to the blog for your information and answer your questions.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Quadrantid Shower Peaks Tomorrow Morning, January 4

The expectation for the Quadrantids this year is an hourly rate of 120 per hour(!), with a waxing gibbous moon setting in the west during the pre-dawn hours. The region of radiant for this shower is northern Bootes, formerly known as Quadrans Muralis 150 years ago – hence the name of the shower, the Quadrantids. Since Bootes rises around 1 a.m., your best bet for viewing between midnight and sunrise tomorrow morning. The moon will be setting (with Jupiter) just as Bootes has come up in the east, along with Saturn.  Mars is already well up in the east. Spica is the bright star south of Saturn.

Best bet for viewing? Anywhere away from city lights. Two of the darkest locations around near Philadelphia are the NJ Pine Barrens and what I call 'the back route' to Cape May – down Rt. 55, south through the Vineland –Millville area towards Belleplain State Forest. The sky is very dark and it's not too far a drive.

As much as we might like to be open to observe meteor showers here at The Franklin Institute, with light pollution from city buildings and street lights, we can't see enough of the meteors to make it worthwhile for an audience to come here. Planets, stars, the moon - and even a few nebulae and star clusters we can see but meteors are very difficult.

While there are several minor showers this spring, the next big shower after the Quadrantids is the Perseid shower on August 12.