Quadrantid meteor shower to peak Wednesday night, Thursday morning

TULSA - Dark skies just a few nights ago shimmering with the light of New Year's Eve fireworks will once again play host a show of light, but this time by nature's own doing.

According to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's website, the year's first meteor shower is set to peak Wednesday night after midnight, producing as many as 120 "shooting stars" per hour.

The little known Quadrantid meteor shower, named for a no longer existent constellation, will only last for a few hours though, with meteor rates increasing after midnight and peaking between 3 a.m. and dawn.

According to EarthSky.com, those wanting to spot the meteor event should face north-northeast and from there take in the whole view of the sky from about 2 a.m. until dawn. The meteors will appear to originate from just below the Big Dipper near the star Arcturus.

Those seeking to be an audience to the show need no special equipment but simply should get away from the city lights to a dark open sky and look up after giving the eyes about 20 minutes to adjust to the lights.

Unfortunately, a bright waning gibbous moon and, according to 2NEWS Meteorologist George Flickinger, scattered high clouds do not present the best meteor viewing weather.

Those still wanting to get a view of the shower can click here for NASA's view of the sky which will be live streaming from Huntsville, Ala.

Most meteor showers occur when the earth crosses into a cloud of space debris left by orbiting comets, forcing the debris to fall and burn in the earth's atmosphere.

The next shower will be the Lyrid meteor shower projected to peak on April 22. 

This shower, characterized by its bright and long tail-producing meteors, at its peak may spawn only 10 to 20 meteors per hour, according to EarthSky, but is also known for producing as many as 100 meteors per hour.

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