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]
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.
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