Year's First Meteor Shower Offers Chance for Wishes Overnight

Updated: 01/02/2013 10:28 PM By: Naomi Pescovitz

Have you ever made a wish on a shooting star? Tonight could be your chance.

The first meteor shower of the year, the Quadrantid Meteor Shower, makes an appearance after midnight. Meteor rates peak from 3 a.m. to dawn. Stars will "fall" every one to two minutes at a maximum of 120 an hour.

"For today's youth, a minute is a very long time to sit there and look at a piece of the sky, but that's what you have to do," said Dr. Terry Jones, professor with the Minnesota Institute of Astrophysics.

The shower is named after an extinct constellation and is traveling on an unusual path. Best viewing is from the northern hemisphere.

To see the shower, go to a place far from city lights and look east, up and a little to the north. The handle of the big dipper is a good reference point. Let your eyes adjust to the darkness for a few minutes first. 

"Most of what you see are only about the size of the tip of your finger. It's hard to believe something that small coming in makes that big bright streak," Jones said.

In addition to some clouds, the moon may offer some competition for the meteor shower because it is in one of its brighter, fuller phases.  

Click here for a live stream of the Quadrantid Meteor Shower from NASA's website.