The Quadrantid Meteor Shower Peaks Tonight—Here's How to See It

iStock.com/mdesigner125
iStock.com/mdesigner125

The first major celestial event of 2019 kicks off the night of Thursday, January 3. The Quadrantid meteor shower appears in the night sky each year in the beginning of January, and it's considered one of the most impressive annual meteor showers. If you're looking to catch the spectacle before it disappears for another year, here's where to look.

According to The Washington Post, the Quadrantids are set to peak this year between 9 and 10 p.m. Eastern time Thursday night. Sky gazers in Eastern Europe and Central Europe will have the best view, potentially seeing as many as 120 meteors burn up in the atmosphere per hour. In the U.S., the meteor shower will appear very low in the sky during its peak, and much of it will be lost beneath the horizon.

But in clear, dark conditions, U.S. viewers can still expect to catch up to 40 meteors in an hour. The shower will appear to originate from the northern part of the sky around 8 to 9 p.m. Eastern time and migrate north-northeast by 10 p.m. At 1 a.m., the shooting stars will have reached their highest point in the northeastern night sky.

Unlike other meteor showers like December's Geminids, the Quadrantids are contained to just a single night rather than stretched out over several days. Peak activity usually lasts four hours, which means there are parts of the world that miss them altogether in some years. The Quadrantids are also distinct in that they come from the debris trailing an asteroid, where most other meteor showers occur when the Earth passes through the tail of a comet.

[h/t The Washington Post]

This Cool T-Shirt Shows Every Object Brought on the Apollo 11 Mission

Fringe Focus
Fringe Focus

NASA launched the Apollo 11 mission on July 16, 1969, ending the space race and beginning a new era of international space exploration. Just in time for the mission's 50th anniversary this year, Fringe Focus is selling a t-shirt that displays every item the Apollo 11 astronauts brought with them to the Moon.

The design, by artist Rob Loukotka, features some of the iconic objects from the mission, such as a space suit and helmet, as well as the cargo that never made it to primetime. Detailed illustrations of freeze-dried meals, toiletries, and maintenance kits are included on the shirt. The artist looked at 200 objects and chose to represent some similar items with one drawing, ending up with 69 pictures in total.

The unisex shirt is made from lightweight cotton, and comes in seven sizes ranging from small to 4XL. It's available in black heather or heather midnight navy for $29.

If you really like the design, the artwork is available in other forms. The same illustration has also been made into poster with captions indicating which pictures represent multiple items of a similar nature.

The International Space Station Will Start Accepting Visitors … For $58 Million

iStock/forplayday
iStock/forplayday

If you've ever wanted to visit the International Space Station, your chance is coming soon—assuming you have a few million set aside. Recently, NASA announced that this orbiting outpost will be open to private citizens starting in 2020.

However, it won't be cheap. According to The Denver Post, each trip could last up to 30 days, and NASA estimates the cost of a round trip at $58 million, as well as an additional $35,000 charge per night. And, it's not just for kicks—you need to have a mission of your own. The space agency is allowing companies that want to conduct commercial or marketing work to send employees to the ISS as long as they meet one of the three requirements:

  • require the unique microgravity environment to enable manufacturing, production, or development of a commercial application;
  • have a connection to NASA's mission; or
  • support the development of a sustainable low-Earth orbit economy

The space station had a visitor back in 2001—Californian businessman Dennis Titobecame history's first space tourist when he spent a week aboard the ISS with two Russian cosmonauts who took him out there on a Russian spacecraft—but this would be a first for NASA. The agency was opposed to training and flying with Tito back in 2001; at the time, NASA administrator Daniel Goldin said, "Space is dangerous. It's not a joyride. Space is not about egos."

Now, NASA is ready to open the shuttle doors to private citizens. In addition to U.S. citizens, those from other countries are eligible to travel as long as they fly on a U.S.-operated rocket. These lucky private astronauts will have to go through the same medical checks, physical training, and certification procedures as crew members before traveling—a process that could take up to two years.

Along with this exciting news, NASA has bigger plans in mind. They are considering the possibility of a private sector company eventually taking control of the station and paying for its expensive upkeep. NASA has yet to announce when this transition would take place, but said in a statement that the "ultimate goal in low-Earth orbit is to partner with industry to achieve a strong ecosystem in which NASA is one of many customers purchasing services and capabilities at lower cost."

In addition, they hope that the revenue will assist in the operational costs for NASA's Artemis program, which is focused on sending astronauts—including the first woman—to the Moon by 2024.

[h/t The Denver Post]

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