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One of 2024’s strongest meteor showers set to light up the sky this week

We might only be three days into 2024, but one of the strongest meteor showers set to happen this entire year is already upon us.

With up to 120 shooting stars being visible each hour, the Quadrantid meteor shower could prove to be a spectacle as it reaches its peak overnight tonight (January 3).

The meteors appear to shoot from a region in space which is bounded by the constellations of Draco, Boötes and Hercules.

The area used to be known as the constellation of Quadrans Muralis, hence the name ‘Quadrantids’, but like Pluto being stripped of its planetary title, the area is no longer recognized as a constellation.

The Quadrantid meteor shower is only visible in the Northern Hemisphere due to its position in the sky, but those who are able to see the event will likely have the best chance of spotting meteors just before dawn on 4 January.

The event actually began on 26 December and is set to continue until 16 January, but according to EarthSky the predicted peak is 7:53 a.m. EST tomorrow.

This makes the hours between 4:53 a.m. EST and dawn the best time to catch a glimpse of some of the shooting stars in North America. In western regions, the best chance to witness the event will be earlier at night.

The meteor shower can be seen with the naked eye. Credit: Fatih Kurt/Anadolu Agency via Getty ImagesThe meteor shower can be seen with the naked eye. Credit: Fatih Kurt/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Unfortunately, a bright last quarter moon set to rise tonight will make viewing the shower more difficult, but looking up at the sky from a dark place away from artificial lighting should hopefully make the fireballs easier to spot.

Those wanting to see the shower are advised to be patient and observe the sky with a naked eye, as binoculars and telescopes can narrow the field of vision.

If you’re not able to get out to do some stargazing in person, the Virtual Telescope Project is hosting a live stream of the event.

Meteor showers take place when Earth passes through the debris of a comet or asteroid, and pieces of the debris enter the Earth’s atmosphere.

The speed at which the debris travels causes it to burn up when it hits the atmosphere, resulting in the recognizable break streaks of light across the sky.

The parent object of the Quadrantids is a rocky asteroid or ‘dead comet’ known as 2003 EH1, which was discovered in 2003.

The shower is one of four major showers that take place each year with a sharp peak, including the Lyrids, Leonids, and Ursids.

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