ENVIRONMENT
01/03/2011 10:55 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Meteor Shower Tonight: 2011 Quadrantids Peak January 3, 4 (PHOTOS)

The first meteor shower of 2011 will peak tonight around 8:00 PM EST on January 3rd. The annual Quadrantid meteor shower typically occurs between January 1st through January 10th, according to the American Meteor Society.

Approximately 100 meteors an hour will rain down during the shower, The Star reports. However, the peak will be very brief, lasting only about an hour.

Though the Quadrantid shower is a major one, it is rarely observed due to the inclement winter weather and its brevity.

According to SpaceWeather.com, Peter Jenniskens of NASA found evidence to suggest that the Quadrantid meteoroids come from 2003 EH1, an "asteroid" that is most likely a piece of comet that broke apart approximately 500 years ago. Earth intersects the orbit of this "asteroid" at a perpendicular angle, thus making us move particularly quickly through the debris.

Unfortunately, the radiant does not attain a high altitude for most Northern Hemisphere viewers before the morning light puts an end to the spectacle. It is best viewed from countries with high northern latitudes, such as Canada, Norway, and Sweden.

Check out some photos of other past meteor showers below.

PHOTO GALLERY
Past Meteor Showers