The New Year’s celebrations may be over, but that doesn’t mean the Earth is done putting on a bright show in the sky. The first meteor shower of 2017 is expected to peak tonight into Wednesday morning. The spectacular shower could bring hundreds of shooting stars to the night sky.
According to the American Meteor Society, the Quadrantids meteor shower is active from the first of the year through Jan. 10. It has the potential to be one of the strongest meteor showers of the year, however, its short-lived peak activity time and poor weather conditions could make for a disappointing start to the stargazing season. “The average hourly rates one can expect under dark skies is 25. These meteors usually lack persistent trains but often produce bright fireballs,” according to the AMS Meteor Shower Calendar. The next major meteor shower will not occur until April 16.
This type of meteor shower favors the Northern Hemisphere and will be most prominent in Alaska and Hawaii, according to NASA. These shooting stars come from a shattered comet and broken asteroids. If you’re lucky enough to be in a prime meteor shower-watching location, you could see up to 80 meteors per hour during peak activity. Here are NASA’s suggestions for viewing the Quadrantids:
“…Find an area well away from city or street lights. Come prepared for winter weather with a sleeping bag, blanket or lawn chair. Lie flat on your back with your feet facing northeast and look up, taking in as much of the sky as possible. In less than 30 minutes in the dark, your eyes will adapt and you will begin to see meteors.”
Though the meteor shower doesn’t last very long, NASA encourages stargazers to be patient. If you’re willing to brave winter cold temperatures, there’s a good chance you’ll catch a glimpse before dawn—and maybe even have enough time to make a wish.
Take a look at this time-lapse video of the 2012 Quadrantids meteor shower:
Will you be checking out the meteor shower tonight? Sound off in the comments section below!
Photo credit: Josh Beasley, Flickr
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