THE FRIENDLY GHOST
The first meteor display of 2011 – the annual Quadrantid meteor shower – will hit its peak tonight and, weather permitting, could dazzle observers across the Northern Hemisphere, skywatchers say.
The Quadrantid meteor shower is expected to peak at about 8 p.m. EST (5 p.m. PST, 0100 Jan. 4 GMT), with some forecasts of 100 meteors per hour at the height of the "shooting stars" display.
The show will be best in parts of Europe and Asia but unfortunately peaks too soon for U.S. skywatchers to expect more than a handful of shooting stars per hour.
As an added perk, the moon won't interfere with the view of the meteor shower because it is in its "new" phase, when it is passing between the Earth and sun and appears from Earth to be completely dark.
"There won't be any annoying moonlight to spoil the fireworks display," said amateur astronomer Jane Houston Jones in a skywatching tips video released by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. "This could be the best shower of the year."