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A major meteor shower is peaking January 3/4 with a potential to produce 50 – 100 meteors at its peak, up to 200 in perfect conditions. However, this assumes moonless dark skies and a right spot at the right time.
While some shooting stars associated with Quadrantid meteor shower are expected to be visible until January 6, the peak of this meteor shower lasts only a few hours. The reason is its thin stream of particles and the fact that the Earth crosses the stream at a perpendicular angle.
The Moon will be 17 days old and being so close to Full Moon, its light will severely limit the observations. However, Quadrantids are known for their bright fireballs, larger explosions of light and color, so the show can still be great for those patient enough to gamble with the uncertain peak. According to several astronomers, the peak this year might begin at around 21:00 or 22:00 UTC, January 3.
Their radiant, the point in the sky from which the Quadrantids appear to come from, is Bootes, originally a constellation called “Quadrans Muralis.”
Unlike most meteor showers which originate from comets, the source of this meteor shower is a ~3 km-wide (1.8 miles) asteroid designated 2003 EH1. It was discovered on March 6, 2003 by astronomer and research scientist Peter Jenniskens who realized that 2003 EH1 is the source for the Quadrantid meteors.
Featured image: Quadrantid meteor by Donovan Shortey