Clear Skies, Meteor Showers Thursday Night

The Quadrantids meteor shower continues to dazzle stargazers.

The first meteor shower of the year is taking place and you could catch a glimpse in the hours before dawn Friday.

According to NASA's website, there is a chance of seeing some meteors starting at about 11 p.m. and lasting several hours: "You will need clear, dark skies for viewing. Allow your eyes 30-45 minutes to adapt to the dark, then look straight up so you can see as much of the sky as possible."

The Quadrantids meteor shower should be quite a show, with 60 to 200 meteors per hour, according to Space.com.  

The National Weather Service is forecasting clear skies (and temperatures in the high 20s), but a bright, waning gibbous moon may steal the show. 

Meteor showers are named after the constellations from which they seem to radiate—we had the Persieds, the Orionids, the Tuarids and the Leonids.

So, where in the sky do the Quadrantids come from?

Quadrans Muralis, of course.

If you're scratching your head, it's OK. Quadrans Muralis is an obsolete constellation.

The meteor shower was named in the 19th century, according to National Geographic, when Quadrans Muralis was still on star charts. The constellation was absorbed into nearby Boötes, the Herdsman in 1922. 

But the meteor shower—remnants of a comet that broke apart several centuries ago, according to NASA—persists. 

The meteors will be visible all over the sky, but if you can trace one back to where it seemed to originate from, and you wind up in the vicinity of where Hercules, Boötes, and Draco all meet, near the handle of the Big Dipper—you've probably seen one of the Quadrantids.


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