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First meteor shower of 2012 may be observed tonight

January 03, 2012, 21:38 UTC+3
The meteor shower will produce more than 100 meteors per hour on the night of January 3
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NEW YORK, January 3 (Itar-Tass) —— The first meteor shower of the year may be observed tonight.

The Quadrantid meteor shower will be particularly bright this year, as it will not be overshadowed by the Moon. It will produce more than 100 meteors per hour on the night of January 3. The Quadrantid meteor shower occurs annually, from December 28 through January 7, and reaches its peak on January 3 and 4.

Quadrantid meteors, which were recorded for the first time in 1825, take their name from the currently non-existent constellation Quadrans Muralis. The meteor shower occurs when the Earth orbit crosses the trajectory of remnants of comets or asteroids. The Quadrantid meteor shower is related to object 2003 EH1. NASA says this celestial body is a fragment of a comet, which broke into pieces several hundreds of years ago.

The meteor shower can be watched in the northern hemisphere only, because the event will happen past dawn in the southern hemisphere. Space dust and comet fragments will bump into the Earth atmosphere at the speed of almost 145,000 kilometer per hour and burn at the altitude of about 80 kilometers.

The previous meteor shower, the Geminids, reached its peak on December 14, 2011. It is related to object 3200 Phaethon and intensifies year to year, with recent showers reaching 120 to 160 meteors per hour. The Geminids meteor shower was observed for the first time over 150 years ago.

The next major meteor shower, the Lyrid, will happen in April 2012. It has a lesser intensity of about ten meteors per hour. That is the meteor shower with the longest observation history.

 

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