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The Buzz

2022 Begins With Quadrantids Meteor Shower At Its Peak. Will You See A Shooting Star?

If you see a fireball streaking across the night sky a few days after the new year, it may be a meteor, and not a late fireworks display welcoming in 2022.

Just a few days after we ring in 2022, the Quadrantids meteor shower will reach its peak. The Quadrantids is a short meteor shower, lasting just a few weeks from December 26 to January 16, according to the American Meteor Society. And unlike most meteor showers that experience their peak activity over a night or two, peak activity for the Quadrantids lasts just six hours on the night of January 2 into January 3.

Meteors are leftover bits and particles from comets and asteroids. Each year, Earth passes through debris trails from comets and asteroids, causing meteor showers, according to NASA. The Quadrantids occurs because our planet passes through a debris field from an asteroid known as 2003 EH1.

We are able to see meteors, or shooting stars, in the night sky because these cosmic particles collide with Earth's atmosphere, and the disintegration causes fiery streaks in the sky. The reason peak activity for the Quadrantids occurs in such a small window is because the meteor shower is created by a thin stream of particles compared to other showers and because Earth passes through the stream at a perpendicular angle, NASA reports.

The Quadrantids meteor shower is known for producing fireballs, which appear larger and brighter in the night sky than meteors. Fireballs develop from larger particles of comets and asteroids, making them more noticeable in the night sky, according to NASA.

As an added bonus for the Quadrantids this year, the peak activity will be the night of the new moon, meaning the skies will be dark, the meteor society reports. After the Quadrantids ends January 16, we won't have another meteor shower until April, when the Lyrids meteor shower begins April 15.

The full moon for the month will be January 17, reaching its fullest point at exactly 5:48 p.m. that evening. The January full moon is known as the wolf moon because howling wolves historically could be heard at this time of year, according to The Old Farmer's Almanac. Long ago, people believed wolves howled because they were hungry and, because food was scarce, howling was more common in January and other winter months. Today, however, we know that wolves howl to communicate, using the sounds to locate other wolves, develop social bonds, coordinate their hunting and establish their territory.


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