In 2011, most of the best meteor showers occurred when the moon was close to full. But 2012 starts out with a fine meteor shower, the Quadrantids, with absolutely no moon to interfere with the viewing. The Quadrantid meteor shower will peak on January 4 at about 2 a.m. EST (0700 GMT). Meteor showers occur when the Earth passes through fields of debris left behind by comets or asteroids in the past. The best known meteor shower of the year is the Perseids, which normally occurs in the second week of August. The other two most reliable meteor showers are the Geminids in mid-December and the Quadrantids in early January. Quadrantid meteor shower is named for a constellation which no longer exists, Quadrans Muralis, the wall quadrant.
Quadrans Muralis consisted of a faint group of stars between the top of Bootes and the handle of the Big Dipper. The Quadrantid shower is unusual for having a very sharp “peak” around 2 a.m. on January 4. Thus it’s important to try to observe on this particular date, as the next night will be too late. Below are presented the major 2012 meteor showers visible during the night where the expected Zenith Hourly Rate (ZHR) of meteors will be 10 or more, or where the rate may be variable.