A so-called supermoon is threatening to drown out the Quadrantid Meteor Shower tonight, after it peaked on New Year’s Day.
But astronomy enthusiasts should not despair as the Quadrantids are renowned for producing “fireball meteors” that should be bright enough to outshine the moon.
“Quadrantids are known for their bright fireball meteors,” NASA explained. “Fireballs are larger explosions of light and colour that can persist longer than an average meteor streak.
“This is due to the fact that fireballs originate from larger particles of material.”
What time is the Quadrantid Meteor Shower in the USA?
The Quadrantid Meteor Shower is unusual in that it peaks for only a few hours each year, so spectators will need a bit of luck if they are too get the best results.
Unfortunately for Americans, the shower is due to peak at about 4pm ET (1pm PT), according to the Royal Astronomical Society in Canada.
Obviously, this coincides with daylight hours so the optimum time for stargazers in the US will be during the late evening and early hours of January 4.
Robert Lunsford of the American Meteor Society told Space.com that Americans can look forward to about 11 meteors per hour just before dawn on Thursday.
This is lower that the prediction from the Hubble Telescope Guide, which puts the figure at closer to 40 per hour.
How to watch the Quadrantid Meteor Shower in the USA
Like all meteor showers, the Quadrantids are best viewed in a rural location away from street lamps and any other light pollution.
For the best chance of spotting a shooting star, skywatchers are advised to lie on the floor with their feet pointing northwest.
There is no need to pack a telescope or pair of binoculars, but remember that it can take up to 30 minutes for your eyes to adjust to the darkness.
Quadrantids radiate in the northern sky form the constellation Bootes, which can be found underneath the Big Dipper and west of the giant red star Arcturus.
Mr Lunsford recommends facing slightly away from the radiant point so help catch the meteors with longer, brighter tails.
What are the Quadrantids?
There is an air of mystery about the origins of the Quadrantids, but they are thought to be made up of the dust and debris left by asteroid 2003 EH1, which NASA describes as possibly a “dead comet”.
NASA said: “Unlike most meteor showers which originate from comets the Quadrantids originate from an asteroid: asteroid 2003 EH1.
“Asteroid 2003 EH1 takes 5.52 years to orbit the sun once. It…