If the New Year’s Eve fireworks didn’t quite live up to your expectations, there’s a natural light show setting up to redeem it.
Everyone in the Northern hemisphere has a chance to view the annual Quadrantid meteor shower. This exceptional celestial sighting runs from Dec. 22 to Jan. 17, but the peak is tonight!
For a few hours tonight, the sky will light up with falling stars. The Quadrantid meteor shower is unlike any other. Its meteors look like large fireballs. They appear more colorful, brighter and last longer than other meteor showers.
The Quadrantid meteor shower gets its name from Quadrans Muralis, an out-of-date constellation. Unlike other meteor showers, this light show originates from an asteroid. The 2003 EH1 asteroid was likely a comet long ago.
Here’s a great shot of the Quadrantid meteor shower in 2016, taken by photographer Neil Zeller:
— Neil Zeller (@Neil_Zee) January 3, 2017
This year’s display won’t be quite the showstopper we usually expect from Quadrantid. Some years there are more than 120 meteors per hour. However, this year NASA predicts up to 40 meteors per hour. That’s still a bunch of shooting stars—so get your wishes ready!
However, the waning Full Wolf Moon is the largest and brightest full moon of the year, and it may steal the show.
Look at this stunning photo of the full moon shining on the snow in Ohio, shared by Instagrammer Kitty and Bear:
Though the light from the moon will outshine many of the meteors, there are ways you can still catch the falling stars.
In order to see the Quadrantids tonight, you must find a spot far from artificial light and the moon. A large land formation like a hill or mountain is a good way to block the light from the moon. The new Dark Sky Reserve in Idaho, an area with minimal light pollution, is an ideal spot for celestial views—if any of you are lucky enough to live near there.
Then, lie down and wait for the shooting stars. Look to the northeast and the meteors will appear from near the Big Dipper’s handle. According to the International Meteor Organisation, we can expect to see dozens of shooting stars per hour. The most meteors will be visible in the last hour before dawn.
So you may want to get up extra early and wish upon a star!
Check out this video below to learn more about the Quarantid meteor shower:
[arve url=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ut0nAQw_q7M” /]
And this one shows a cool time-lapse of the Quadrantids captured on video from Tennessee back in 2012, so if you can’t make it out in those predawn hours to catch the show, there’s always YouTube!
[arve url=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oXYicvOR_LE” /]