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Quadrantid meteor shower: How and when to see it

The shower is expected to peak between Jan. 3 and 4.

TEMPLE, Texas — The night sky may be a little more exciting this week, as the Quarantid meteor streaks across the stars.

The Quarantid meteor shower is expected to peak between Jan. 3 and 4, according to Space.com

Unfortunately, astronomers believe that the 89% illuminated moon will make it difficult to see some of the fainter meteors in the shower, but Space.com recommends that the best time to view the shower will be around 6 a.m. local time, just before the break of dawn.

So what exactly is a Quarantid meteor shower? While all meteor showers involve views of meteors, or "shooting stars", flashing across the sky, the meteors in the Quarantid shower have a very specific origin.

The Quarantid meteor shower occurs as Earth passes through the debris left in the wake of asteroid 2003 EH1, which NASA believes to be an extinct comet.

According to NASA meteor expert Bill Cooke, sky-watchers may see as many as 100 Quandrantid meteors during the shower's peak, when Earth passes through the thickest part of the asteroid's debris stream.

Meteor showers are typically named after the constellations that they appear to emanate from, but since the Quadrans Muralis constellation no longer exists, its namesake Quandrantid shower will instead be seen around the Bootes constellation, according to Space.com.

To find the constellation, Space.com recommends looking just north of the Big Dipper, near the star Arcturus. The action is not limited to this area however, as meteors are expected to be visible across the sky.

To best view the shower, Space.com says sky-watchers should check the sky in the darkest possible location they can around 6 a.m. in the Northern Hemisphere, between Jan. 3 and 4. 

Telescopes and binoculars should not be needed as long as the sky is dark enough, but the moon may make it difficult to see some of the meteors.

Just don't forget to make a wish.

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