The Quadrantid meteor shower is active between Dec. 28 and Jan. 12, and will peak between Jan. 3 and Jan. 4.
Viewing conditions for the Quadrantids are not good this year as there will be an 89% illuminated moon during the peak, washing out the fainter meteors.
The Quadrantid meteor shower is produced when Earth passes through the debris or ice and dust left behind by asteroid 2003 EH1, which is likely an extinct comet, NASA meteor expert Bill Cooke told Space.com. "It was either a piece of a comet or a comet itself, and then it became extinct," which means that all the ice and other volatiles on the comet have evaporated, Cooke said.
Related: Annual meteor shower viewing guide
"A lot of meteor showers last days — the Quadrantids last a few hours," Cooke said. As many as 100 Quadrantid meteors can be seen some years during the peak when Earth plows through the thickest part of the debris stream, Cooke continued, but only if skies are dark enough. Because they're faint, it's easy to miss many of the Quadrantids streaking across the sky.
Where can you see the Quadrantid meteor shower?(opens in new tab)
The Quadrantids are best seen by skywatchers in the Northern Hemisphere (weather permitting of course).
Meteor showers are named after the constellations from which the meteors appear to emanate, known as the radiant. Unlike other meteor showers, the constellation from which the Quadrantids get their name — the Quadrans Muralis — no longer exists as it is now considered part of the constellation Bootes.
Don't look directly at Bootes to find meteors, as the shooting stars will be visible throughout the sky. Make sure to move your gaze around the nearby constellations as meteors closer to the radiant have shorter trains (glowing trails of debris) and are more difficult to spot. If you only look at Bootes you might miss the more spectacular Quadrantids.
How to see the Quadrantids
To best see the Quadrantid meteor shower, go to the darkest possible location, lean back and relax. You don't need equipment like telescopes or binoculars as the secret is to take in as much sky as possible and allow about 30 minutes for your eyes to adjust to the dark.
If you want more advice on photographing the Quadrantids, check out our how-to photograph meteors and meteor showers guide. If you need imaging gear, consider our best cameras for astrophotography and the best lenses for astrophotography.(opens in new tab)
When is the best time to view the Quadrantid meteor shower?
The best time to view the Quadrantids is just before the break of dawn at about 6 a.m. local time — when the radiant of the shower is ascending the northeastern sky.
The Quadrantid meteor shower is active between Dec. 28 and Jan. 12 and will peak between Jan. 3 and Jan. 4, according to Royal Museums Greenwich (opens in new tab).
What causes the Quadrantid meteor shower?(opens in new tab)
The Quadrantids have a somewhat peculiar origin. While most meteor showers come to be from comet fragments, the body responsible for producing the Quadrantids is asteroid 2003 EH1, which astronomers sometimes call a "rock comet."
As the name of the asteroid implies, it was found very recently — in 2003 — by astronomer Peter Jenniskens, a meteor expert with the SETI Institute in California who concluded that 2003 EH1 was the parent body of the Quadrantids/
Adding another layer of intrigue, some astronomers believe 2003 EH1 is the remainder of comet C/1490 Y1 (opens in new tab), which was lost to history after a prominent meteor shower was mentioned in Chinese records in 1490. It is possible the sky display came from a breakup of part of the comet.
Have you seen a fireball recently? Report the sighting (opens in new tab) to the American Meteor Society to help contribute to fireball research. Take a tour of meteors and meteorites through history on this Google Arts & Culture feature (opens in new tab) courtesy of Adler Planetarium.
Editor's note: If you captured an amazing photo of video of the Quadrantid meteor shower and would like to share it with Space.com for a story or gallery, send images and comments to: firstname.lastname@example.org.