Quadrantids 2013: Clear Skies and Meteor Showers Tonight

The Quadrantids - a short, but oft-impressive meteor shower - should dazzle tonight.

Keep an eye open for the first meteor shower of the year in the hours before dawn Friday.  

The Quadrantids meteor shower should be quite a show, with 60 - 200 meteors per hour, according to Space.com.  

The National Weather Service is forecasting clear skies (and temperatures in the high 20s), but a bright, waning gibbous moon may steal the show. 

Meteor showers are named after the constellations from which they seem to radiate - we had the Persieds, the Orionids, the Tuarids, the Leonids, all fairly straight forward.

So where in the sky do the Quadrantids come from?

Quadrans Muralis, of course

If you're scratching your head, it's OK. Quadrans Muralis is an obsolete constellation.

The meteor shower was named in the 19th century, according to National Geographic, when Quadrans Muralis was still on star charts. The constellation was absorbed into nearby Boötes, the Herdsman in 1922. 

But the meteor shower - remnants of a comet that broke apart several centuries ago, according to NASA -  persists. 

The meteors will be visible all over the sky, but if you can trace one back to where it seemed to originate from, and you wind up in the vicinity of where Hercules, Boötes, and Draco all meet, near the handle of the Big Dipper - you've probably seen one of the Quadrantids.


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