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Quadrantid Meteor Shower 2012: January 4 Could Show 100 Shooting Stars Per Hour

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Stargazers in the Northern Hemisphere can look forward to 2012's first meteor shower which is set to peak at 2:30 a.m. EST on Wednesday, Jan. 4.

Lasting for several hours, observers can expect the Quadrantid meteor shower to produce as many as 100 shooting stars each hour, according to NASA.

With the moon setting at 3 a.m. EST, ABC News reports those in North America brave enough to face the cold pre-dawn air can look forward to clear skies that are perfect for spotting meteors.

First documented in 1825, the little-known meteor shower is named after the obsolete constellation Quadrans Muralis, which is no longer recognized by the International Astronomical Union, according to Discovery News.

Located between the constellations of Bootes and Draco, NASA writes that the Quadrans symbolize an early astronomical instrument used to observe and plot stars.

Meteor showers happen when the Earth travels through the tail of debris left over from comets or asteroids, notes Space.com.

Check out the slideshow below of past meteor showers:

Meteor Showers
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