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Quadrantid meteor shower to peak this week in North America

By
Allen Cone

WASHINGTON, Jan. 2 (UPI) -- A fireworks-type display of Quadrantid meteors will likely peak in North America on Tuesday or Wednesday.

Astronomers disagree on the exact peak of the Quadrantid, whose bright fireballs are one of the most vibrant celestial shows of the year. Some say it will be pre-dawn Tuesday and others say late night Tuesday into early Wednesday is the best time to watch. At least some shootings stars will likely be visible during both viewing windows.

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"Predictions aren't always accurate, so from any northerly latitudes, try watching in the dark hours before dawn on Jan. 3 and/or Jan. 4," Bruce McClure wrote in his column for the online astronomy magazine Earth and Sky.

Because it likely will peak during early morning hours, it will be best observed on the West Coast of the United States, as well as in Alaska and Hawaii.

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If the peak is Tuesday, it will be at 9 a.m. Eastern Time. Just before dawn, the Quads will appear to radiate in the sky below the Big Dipper's handle.

Because there will be little to no interfering moonlight, viewing should be good.

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"The 2017 Quadrantids should provide a pretty good show to North American stargazers," astronomer Dennis Mammana wrote on his blog for Creators.com. "Astronomers predict that an hourly rate of 100 to 120 meteors might be possible for viewers located away from city lights."

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Adolphe Quetelet of Brussels Observatory discovered the Quadrantid meteor shower in the 1830s. Several astronomers in Europe and America noted it later. The meteors were christened "Quadrantids, even though the constellation no longer exists.

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