The Quadrantid meteor shower will be lighting up skies in the Northern Hemisphere this weekend with the first shooting stars of 2015 — but catching a glimpse could be tricky.
According to AccuWeather.com, the first meteor shower of the year could be obscured by a storm over parts of the United States. The view will be good across the northeast and in Florida, but there will be numerous clouds from the east of the Rockies.
“It should be clear up and down the West Coast from Seattle to Los Angeles and also be clear across most of the Four Corners states,” a meteorologist for AccuWeather.com said.
In addition, the brightness of the waxing gibbous moon may wash out some of the brightest meteors.
Timing is everything when it comes to viewing the Quadrantids. According to Space.com, past observations of the shower suggest it will peak on the night of 3 January at 2am GMT (9pm EST).
The radiant point of the Quadrantids, the area in the sky in which the shower appears to originate, is inside the constellation Boötes, located near the Big Dipper and the head of the constellation Draco.
The name of the shower comes from Quadrans Muralis, an obsolete constellation created by French astronomer Jerome Lalande in 1795 that was incorporated into Boötes.
In 2003, astronomer Peter Jenniskens identified the parent body of the Quadrantids as the minor planet 2003 EH1, which may be related to the comet C/1490 Y1. A meteor shower occurs when Earth passes through the path of a comet.
As it traverses through, bits of comet debris burn up in the Earth’s atmosphere and create flashes of light in the night sky. The pieces of debris which enter the Earth’s atmosphere are called meteors.
If that doesn’t sound appealing, the Slooh Community Observatory will be showing a live stream of the event online.