The first meteor shower of the year is set to peak overnight Wednesday.
Every year from the end of December to mid-January, the Quadrantid Meteor shower–a natural phenomenon in which cosmic debris enters the Earth’s atmosphere and creates shining streaks of light sometimes visible to the naked eye– occurs. But overnight, between January 3 and January 4 this year, the phenomenon will peak in brightness and be the easiest to view, according to the American Meteor Society.
The shower is often the strongest and most consistent meteor shower of the entire year, producing up to 110 shooting stars per hour.
And for those wanting to see the natural phenomenon across North America, Hawaii and Alaska, the best results for viewing the phenomenon will usually be between midnight and 5 a.m—with North America being on the earlier end of those hours. The shower’s peak range is expected to be from 4 a.m. to 10 a.m. ET. The Southern Hemisphere isn’t as likely to get a glimpse of the shower.
For the best viewing possibilities, it's important to find an area with minimal light pollution. Ideally, you also want to be under a cloudless sky with scarce moonlight as well.
The meteors can be seen radiating from the constellation, Boötes, which is near the big dipper. Those who want to catch it, can use a night sky mapper to determine which part of the sky you should look at given your current location.
The meteor shower was first named in the 1830s after it had been observed by several astronomers in Europe and the Americas. They were named Quadrantids after the name of the constellation called "Quadrans Muralis," the "Mural or Wall Quadrant." Though this name is no longer used by astronomers to refer to the constellations in that region of the sky today, the name of the meteor shower stuck and continues to be referred to as the Quadrantids till today.
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