Major meteor shower expected tonight

Major meteor shower expected tonight
Posted at 5:28 PM, Jan 03, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-03 17:28:13-05

One of the biggest meteor showers of the year is expected to be visible for much of the United States early Wednesday morning as more than 60 shooting stars per hour are expected during the peak of the Quadrantids meteor shower.

According to NASA, peak time for the Quadrantids is between midnight and 3 a.m. local time. The meteors will originate from the northeast sky. NASA said it expects the peak of the meteor shower will feature up to 80 shooting stars per hour. 

Those in Alaska and Hawaii are expected to have the best viewing conditions. Views of the meteor shower are expected to be better on the Pacific Coast than the Atlantic Coast. 

NASA said the meteor shower could include some impressive "fireball meteors," which could stand out in the dark night sky.

"Fireballs are larger explosions of light and color that can persist longer than an average meteor streak," NASA said. "This is due to the fact that fireballs originate from larger particles of material. Fireballs are also brighter, with magnitudes brighter than -3."

In order to see the meteor shower, observers will need a clear view of the northeast sky. NASA recommends observers move away from city lights where light pollution can dim the meteor shower. 

The meteor shower comes from bits and pieces left from Asteroid 2003 EH1 as it orbits around the Sun. When leftover particles from comets and asteroids hit the Earth's atmosphere, they burn up causing what looks like a shooting star for those observing from the ground.