Just three days into the new year, and star gazers are in for a treat. On January 3 (starting at midnight tonight and lasting into the morning hours), the Quandrantid meteor shower will put on a show for the Western coast of the United states, as well as Asia. The Quads, as it is more commonly known, typically produce 60 to 200 meteors per hour, but will sadly fall during daylight hours for certain time zones.
The Quad showers have been observed since the early 1800s, and are relatively short lived compared to some meteor showers, starting at about midnight tonight. The shower's peak takes place from approximately 5AM to 6AM PST. Because that places the shower's best performance after dawn in the eastern time zone, those beyond the west will have trouble getting a satisfactory viewing of the event.
What makes the Quads shower special? Unlike most meteor showers, the Quadrantids originate from an asteroid dubbed 2003 EH1 instead of a comet. Viewing the shower outside of the peak hours isn't recommended; unlike some other meteor showers, there won't be much to see outside of the strongest time of the shower. On average, viewers can expect about 120 stars per hour.
Although the Quads is a major meteor shower, it is also one of the most least viewed, usually having to do with a combination of holiday distractions and an ample amount of cold weather, not to mention the low visibility on the eastern half of the US. Still, if you want to set your alarm clock, those in the mid-to-southwest will have the best weather for viewing the event. Parts of the western north will be cloudy, in addition to cold weather that makes standing outside less than enjoyable.
[via USA Today]