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Subdued Quadrantid Meteor Shower Peaks Today: What to Expect

The annual Quadrantid meteor shower peaks today (Jan. 3), but don't get your hopes up for a spectacular sky show.

The Quadrantids are flaring up on the heels of Monday's (Jan. 1) Full Wolf supermoon, the brightest full moon of 2018. Most of the meteors will therefore get drowned out by the glare of Earth's nearest neighbor, which will still be large and bright in the sky.

Indeed, some experts predict that observers under dark skies will see about a dozen meteors per hour overnight tonight. The highest rates will likely come in the wee hours of Thursday morning (Jan. 4), when the Quadrantids' "radiant" — the point from which the meteors seem to emanate — will be high in the sky. [2018 Quadrantid Meteor Shower Guide: When and How to See It]

Photographer Jeff Berkes captured several Quadrantid meteors in this long-exposure image taken in the Florida Keys in January 2012. The 2018 Quadrantids will peak overnight on Jan. 3 and 4. (Image credit: Jeff Berkes)

That point is just below the handle of the famous Big Dipper star pattern, by the way. But you don't have to stare at a shower's radiant to see meteors; they can appear pretty much anywhere in the sky, so just look up, after giving your eyes a chance to acclimate to the darkness.

Annual meteor showers are generated when Earth plows into streams of debris shed over the eons by particular comets or asteroids. In the Quadrantids' case, the parent body is the asteroid 2003 EH1. Astronomers think this weird object is actually an extinct comet, one that has lost its water ice and other volatile materials on its many trips around the sun.

The annual Quadrantid meteor shower runs from Dec. 30 to Jan. 12 and peaks before dawn on Thursday (Jan. 4). The Quadrantids are usually a good shower, but bright moonlight will reduce the number of meteors you see this year. (Image credit: SkySafari App )

Editor's note: If you capture an amazing photo of video of the 2018 Quadrantid meteor shower and would like to share it with Space.com for a story or gallery, send images and comments to: spacephotos@space.com

Follow Mike Wall on Twitter @michaeldwall and Google+. Follow us @Spacedotcom, Facebook or Google+. Originally published on Space.com.

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Mike Wall
SPACE.COM SENIOR SPACE WRITER — Michael has been writing for Space.com since 2010. His book about the search for alien life, "Out There," was published on Nov. 13, 2018. Before becoming a science writer, Michael worked as a herpetologist and wildlife biologist. He has a Ph.D. in evolutionary biology from the University of Sydney, Australia, a bachelor's degree from the University of Arizona, and a graduate certificate in science writing from the University of California, Santa Cruz. To find out what his latest project is, you can follow Michael on Twitter.