Forget fireworks, Mother Nature has prepared something a lot better for the arrival of the New Year: the Quadrantid Meteor Shower. The astronomical phenomenon is due to take place tonight, January 4th, according to a recent report published on Huffington Post.
More than 100 shooting stars per hour are expected to be seen tonight during one of the most important astronomical event of 2012: the Quadrantid Meteor shower. The peak will take place at 2:30 a.m. EST on Wednesday, January 4, but shooting stars may be seen throughout the entire night.
The peak of the meteor shower will not last very long. After an hour, the intensity of the shooting stars will begin to decrease. Although NASA has communicated that the stars will be most visible around 2 a.m., you should be prepared to spend the entire night outdoors as the exact time remains unknown. The peak may take place sooner or later than expect. Either way, you will see plenty of shooting stars, regardless if you catch the peak or not.
The weather seems to be on star watchers’ side, as well. The Quadrantid Meteor shower is rarely visible because of the weather conditions in early January. This year, however, the sky is not covered by clouds and the temperatures are rather mild, so you won’t freeze while you haunt for shooting stars.
In 2008, scientists working at NASA used a unique method to get a better image of the stars. They flew a plane above the clouds and over the Arctic Circle. They were thus, able to get a good view of the shower.
There is another reason why the astronomical phenomenon is seldom seen. According to NASA, the event is very brief; it only lasts a few hours, so you have to be prepared to see the stars.
The shower was first documented in 1825 and it was named after the obsolete constellation Quadrans Muralis. The constellation is positioned between Draco, Hercules, and Bootes and was depicted in the 19-century atlases. It was removed in 1922 when the International Astronomical Union adopted the modern list of 88 officially-recognized constellations.