Shooting stars will appear in the night sky this evening on January 4. The fiery rocks will enthral enthusiasts as they whizz across the sky with their bright lights – here’s how to see the meteor shower
The first meteor shower of 2022 is set to reach its peak tonight on January 4.
Meteors come from leftover comet particles and bits of broken up asteroids.
When they break up they emit a dusty trail behind them, which is what the Earth’s atmosphere collides with at roughly the same point every year.
The shower tonight consists of meteors known as ‘Quadrantids’, which are meteors that emit blue light with slightly harder to see trains behind them as they burn up in the atmosphere.
During its peak, as many as 60 to 200 Quadrantid meteors can be seen per hour under perfect conditions.
So how can you see the meteor shower?
The meteor shower is expected to reach its peak between 9pm and 10pm tonight, the perfect time for some sky-watching before bed.
NASA said: “The Quadrantids, which peak during early-January each year, are considered to be one of the best annual meteor showers.
“Most meteor showers have a two-day peak, which makes catching sight of these other meteors much more possible. The Quadrantids peak, on the other hand, is much shorter—only a few hours.”
You need clear skies to be able to view the meteors and much of the UK is expected have them, though Wales may struggle, as will some slightly cloudy areas in Central England, the Midlands and the South West.
The Met Office said of tonight’s forecast “Many inland areas becoming dry and clear with frost in sheltered areas, whilst showers continue to affect northern areas, where falling as snow at times, and in some western districts. Windy, especially in the north, with severe gales at first.
How can I watch the meteor shower?
The best way of looking for the shower in the night sky is by finding the Big Dipper, more commonly known as the ‘Plough’ in the UK.
The Plough consists of seven stars and you can find it by looking north.
Once you have found it, follow its ‘arc’ across starting from the bottom.
Trace it until you find the red giant star Arcturus, part of the Bootes constellation that looks like a kite.
NASA advised: “Come prepared for winter weather with a sleeping bag, blanket or lawn chair. Lie flat on your back with your feet facing northeast and look up, taking in as much of the sky as possible. In less than 30 minutes in the dark, your eyes will adapt and you will begin to see meteors.”
It also helps to be away from big cities which suffer from light pollution, so you are more likely to be able to see the shower from the countryside.