Quadrantid meteor shower-watchers will have to deal with a three-quarter-full moon, but the event peaks overnight Wednesday, meaning the show will go on.
Michael Heinz/Journal & Courier/AP/File
Just when you thought the New Year's fireworks were over, a defunct comet is providing a natural encore.
One of the year's meteoric show stoppers – the Quadrantid meteor shower – peaks overnight Wednesday.
Anyone with the good fortune of living under very dark skies on a moonless night could expect to see as many as 120 meteors an hour when the shower's source region in the sky – or radiant – is directly overhead.
Wednesday, however, the shower will have competition from a moon nearly three-quarters full, so moonlight will mask most of the dimmer bulbs on the shelf. Given the moon's phase, that translates into a rate of between five and 10 meteors an hour visible to people from urban centers through suburbs and into rural areas, according to estimates from the American Meteor Society.
The shower actually spans six days, starting Jan. 1. But this year Earth is encountering the bulk of this cosmic debris in the predawn darkness of Jan. 3.