DETROIT (WWJ) – Bundle up and head outside Wednesday night or you may miss the first meteor shower of 2017.
It’s the Quadrantids — named for a defunct constellation — and astronomer Michael Narlock at the Cranbrook Institute of Science says metro Detroiters will have about eight hours or so to catch the show.
“This nice thing about this one is it’s very, very easy to see, very easy to see because they look like they come out of the sky near to the Big Dipper; and usually everybody can find the big dipper, especially here in Michigan,” Narlock told WWJ’s Jackie Paige.
“So you find the Big Dipper and you look in that direction and you could see up to a hundred of these little specks burning up in our atmosphere.”
Sometimes referred to as “shooting stars” meteors are in fact small bodies of matter (in most cases, pieces of a comet) that burn and vaporize upon entry into the Earth’s atmosphere.
While the Quadrantids can sometimes be spotted anytime after sundown, Narlock said, the best time to see the most meteors is after midnight, when the sky is at it darkest — weather permitting.
“On any given night you could see a handful of meteors streaking across the sky,” he added. “But in these particular events you’ll see many, many more; and, you know, I think we could get up to 100 an hour. That’s almost two-a-minute that you’re going to be able to see.”
Something else to keep an eye out for: a particular planet.
“The one thing we’ve been getting phone calls on in the early evening, you could see Venus. That very, very bright dot in sky is the second planet from the sun, Venus, and it was particularly beautiful a couple days ago when the crescent moon was right next to it. So that’s a pretty interesting sight.”