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Meteor Shower: Quadrantid Meteor Shower Wednesday

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False-color image of a rare early Quadrantid, captured by a NASA meteor camera in 2010. (NASA/MEO/B. Cooke)
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False-color image of a rare early Quadrantid, captured by a NASA meteor camera in 2010. (NASA/MEO/B. Cooke)

Skywatchers, be ready to take in an intense meteor shower this week.

According to ABC, the first sky show of 2012, the Quadrantid meteor shower is set to take place Wednesday morning.

According to NASA, the 2012 Quadrantids is a little-known meteor shower named after an extinct constellation. It happens when the planet passes through a trail of debris left by an asteroid called 2003 EH1.

The quick show is only for early birds. The Quadrantid meteor shower is reportedly considered one of the shortest.

But for early birds, it’s quite a show, it’s also considered one of the most intense showers of the year. Skywatchers could see up to 200 streaks across the sky per hour, if it’s a clear morning.

Reportedly, only northern hemisphere observers will be able to see it. The sky show should be best between 3 a.m. and dawn.

Meteor showers, according to Spacedate.org, are the result of comets shedding debris as they orbit the Sun. As comets orbit the Sun, they shed an icy, dusty debris stream along the comet’s orbit.

As the planet moves through these particles, it sweeps them up and according to Space.com, they are then heated by friction with Earth’s atmosphere, causing bright streaks of light in the sky.

Meteor showers take place a couple of times a year. This past November, skywatchers got to see the annual meteor shower known as the Leonids. The shower happened when Earth passed through a cloud of debris reportedly left by the TempelTuttle comet.

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