Supermoon may put a damper on this week’s meteor shower

Long-exposure of a meteor going through the constellation Orion during the Perseids meteor shower.

The Quadrantid meteor shower peaks this week across the winter sky but it will be more difficult to see them this year due to the supermoon that occurs tonight.

While not as well known as the Orionids, Geminids or Leonids, the Quadrantids occur from mid December to mid January with the peak usually just after the new year. This year, the peak will occur roughly around the late afternoon hours on Wednesday, January 3. It’ll still be daylight at that point, so here along the Gulf, the best shot will be the pre-dawn hours on Wednesday and Thursday (the 3rd and 4th of January).

Unfortunately, not only is the moon almost full at this point, but it’s also a supermoon. Full moons offer a lot more brightness to the sky due to more sunlight being reflected off the lunar surface back towards Earth. A supermoon is even brighter because of the distance between the Earth and the Moon being closer than average.

So this year, the Quadrantids won’t be quite as impressive. But you still could see some of the brighter meteors streaking through the night sky, especially the fireballs that sometimes occur with this shower. The best time to try and see one will be in the early morning hours Wednesday and Thursday, before sunrise. Look to the northeast, and the meteors will appear to originate just below the tip of the “Big Dipper”. Meteors are easier to see when this origin point is higher in the sky, and this go around,  it just happens to be in the dark hour before dawn.

Quick note though, just because the meteors originate from this point, doesn’t mean that’s the only place to see them. It only means the trajectories origination in that part of the sky. You’ll still be able to see them in any part of the sky.