For the Quadrantids peak night on Friday morning January 4th, I was ready to write it off due to very poor weather.  I checked the clouds forecast at 1:30am (local time) just in case the situation might have improved, and it still looked very bad near Ottawa (i.e. a snowstorm outside) but it was possibly better south-west of Ottawa out past Kaladar.  So I very quickly got ready and left as a strong snowfall was in progress.  Along the way, I saw some accidents due to the treacherous driving conditions but traffic was light at that time of the night.  By the time I reached Perth along Highway 7, snow had not occurred there and the roads were in much better shape.  I arrived at the Lennox & Addington Dark Sky Site at 4:30am and the sky was more than halfway clear and improving!  Almost right away, I saw Quadrantid meteors left and right!  I watched casually the next 15 minutes and enjoyed what I saw.  The sky continued to improve, so I took out my chair and sleeping bag to setup in the snow next to the car.  It was very mild, only 0C (32F) – quite unusual for a clear sky in January.

At 4:50am EST, it was all clear and I signed on for formal watch!!  It was a beautiful dark sky, and with the radiant high up, “Quads” were coming down in different parts of the sky.  Some were quite bright (up to -2 and -1) typically blue-white or yellowish.  The rates were quite decent in the first hour with 28 “Quads” (the peak was several hours earlier).  I watched for another 54 minutes until morning dawn (6:42am EST), and things were quieter with just 13 “Quads”.  The Earth was clearly moving out of the main part of the dust stream.  The highlight was a -4 Coma Berenicid fireball split the sky like a green lightning bolt!

The total count in those two hours was 55 meteors (41 Quadrantids, 4 Coma Berenicids, 3 January Leonids, 2 December Leo Minorids and 5 sporadics).

Seeing the Quadrantids at their best involves a lot of luck and good timing.  The peak is sharp and short lived but well worth chasing, as it is often as strong as the Perseids or Geminids, and occasionally even better!  In all my meteor observing years, I’ve only seen the Quadrantids at full tilt a small handful of times.  In 2009, they were strong with an hourly rate count reaching 107 — it was a wonderful display!  The timing for this year was not favourable here in North America as the peak came early in the evening while the radiant was low.  It would have been still interesting to watch earlier anyway, for earthgrazers especially.  But, I’m glad I was able to see something of this year’s shower despite the iffy weather.  I had some luck!!! : )

January 3/4 2019, 09:48-11:42 UT (04:48-06:42 EST)
Location: L&A County Public Dark Site, Ontario, Canada
(Long: -77.116 West; Lat: 44.559 North)

Observed showers:
Quadrantids (QUA) – 15:24 (231) +49
Anthelion (ANT) – 07:52 (118) +21
alpha Hydrids (AHY) – 08:14 (130) -09
December Leonis Minorids (DLM) – 11:38 (175) +23
Coma Berenicids (COM) – 12:07 (182) +14

09:48-10:48 UT (04:48-05:48 EST); 3/5 trans; F 1.02; LM 6.40; facing N50 deg; teff 1.00 hr
QUA: Twenty-eight: -2; -1; 0(3); +1(2); +2(4); +3(3); +4(9); +5(5)
COM: three: +2; +3; +4
DLM: two: +4(2)
JLE: one: +3
Sporadics: three: +2; +3; +5
Total meteors: Thirty-seven

10:48-11:42 UT (05:48-06:42 EST); 3/5 trans; F 1.00; LM 5.95; facing N60 deg; teff 0.90 hr
QUA: thirteen: 0; +1(2); +2(4); +3(3); +4(3)
JLE: two: +3; +4
COM: one: -4
Sporadics: two: +3; +5
Total meteors: Eighteen

Clear skies,

Pierre Martin
Ottawa, Ontario