The very first Meteor shower of 2012 may provide someone somewhere some spectacular show. The Quadrantids are known for producing at times anywhere from 80-200 meteors per hour. Due to the high speed of entry to our atmosphere (faster than other showers) they can burn up very brightly.
There is a catch.
Unlike many other meteor showers that can last for several days – this one is over VERY quickly. The shower lasts for one to two hours only. NASA web sites set the peak to occur at 2:20am EST. However the moon does not set until 3am local time.
I’m going to keep a tab on reports of the peak being viewed elsewhere. They can get the peak wrong by a few hours so there is a chance that we could get to see it here in California. If so… I may just get up at 3am and head out some way up HWY 2 (Angeles Crest) which is the darkest place close to me.
More information and good links to other resources from NASA
You can listen for the “Pings” of the meteors on spaceweatherradio.com (note: this is a live broadcast from the Air Force Space Surveillance Radar that is scanning the skies above Texas. When a meteor or satellite passes over the facility–ping!–there is an echo.)
At 9pm PST there have only been a few pings – which makes sense as the peak is not scheduled for a few more hours. It’s incredibly boring to be listening while not a lot is going on.. so I only recommend you do this if you are a complete space nut. I am curious what it will be like at the peak so I may just tune in later on.