Mere days after the start of the new year, skywatchers in the Northern Hemisphere will be treated to the first meteor shower of 2014.
Set to peak on Friday, Jan. 3, the Quadrantid meteor shower will offer a brief period of steady shooting stars. Observers in Europe and Asia will likely have the best view when the shower peaks at 7:30 p.m. UT, since skies there will be dark at that time.
For viewers on the East Coast of the U.S., the meteor shower will peak at 2:30 p.m. Friday, so the best time to watch may be the hours between midnight and dawn on Jan. 3. However, meteors may still be visible for U.S. viewers Friday night.
"The Quadrantids begin and end in a short period, so finding the time when you can see them can be a fickle thing," astronomer Ben Burress of California's Chabot Space & Science Center told National Geographic. "Make sure to find a safe, dark place away from city lights [that] is clear of trees and buildings, and most of all stay warm and be patient."
The Quadrantid meteor shower, named after an extinct constellation, is one of the lesser known annual meteor showers. NASA estimates that the "Quads" will offer about 80 meteors per hour during the period of peak activity.
Both the Slooh Space Camera and NASA will provide a live broadcast of the Quadrantid meteor shower online. Slooh's program (in the video above) is set to launch on Friday afternoon, while the U.S. space agency will begin its coverage of the annual meteor shower on UStream as early as 7 p.m. ET on Thursday.