The new year’s first shooting stars, the Quadrantids, have such a short peak that you might miss them if it’s daylight on your side of the world.
According to earthsky.org, the Observer’s Handbook says the peak will be at 1 p.m. GMT on Jan. 3, which means before dawn in North America.
Meteor showers are always hard to predict, though, so it could happen earlier or later. In Asia, it might happen in the predawn hours on Jan. 4.
“Those who brave the cold might see up to 40 meteors per hour, although moonlight will make faint meteors harder to spot,” Hubble Space Telescope officials said in a video guide, according to SPACE.com.
The waning gibbous moon will probably wash out some of the meteors this year. However, the Quadrantids are one of the most active meteor showers of the year, so there might still be a good show.
The radiant point, or the spot in the sky where all Quadrantid meteors seem to come from, is Quadrans, an outdated constellation that astronomers don’t recognize anymore. Quadrans Muralis was still considered a constellation when the Quadrantids were discovered in 1825.
Quadrans Muralis is in the north near the constellations Draco and Bootes. That means the Quadrantids are usually only seen in the Northern Hemisphere.
The meteors are probably bits of debris from an asteroid called 2003 EH1, the same asteroid that produces the December Geminid shower. When a tiny piece of this asteroid burns up 50 miles overhead, we see a Quadrantid light up the sky.
You can watch a livestream on the nights of Jan. 2 to 4 via NASA here.
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