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Quadrantid meteor shower peaks today: Watch the show online

NASA

The first meteor shower of 2014 peaks this week, and you can watch the show online, right here.

Beginning at 3:30 p.m. PST and continuing through the night, the website Slooh.com will be streaming live video of the night sky from its telescopes in the Canary Islands and Arizona.

The meteor shower, known as the Quadrantids, is a tricky one to catch. Although it can occasionally provide impressive displays of more than 100 meteors per hour, astronomers at EarthSky.org note that it has a very short peak time that lasts just a few hours.

This year, the Quadrantid peak is anticipated to occur at noon Pacific time on Friday, when the shining sun will make meteor spotting impossible for those of us in the Western hemisphere. However, the viewing should be just right for people in central and eastern Asia.

While most meteor showers occur when the Earth passes through a stream of dust and debris shed in the wake of a comet, the Quadrantids are one of just two annual meteor showers that originate from an asteroid.

However, studies by NASA scientists suggest that the Quadrantids' parent asteroid, known as 2003 EH1, may actually be a piece of a comet that fragmented hundreds of years ago. If that's the case, the Quadrantid meteors that burn up in our atmosphere each January may be former comet bits that broke off during that fragmentation.

Quandrantid meteors generally glow blue, and hit our atmosphere at 90,000 mph, and burn up 50 miles above our planet, according to NASA. They were first discovered in 1825 and are named for a constellation, Quadrans Muralis, which is no longer recognized by astronomers.

For more stories on what to look for in the night sky (or online), follow me on Twitter.

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Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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