The Quadrantid meteor shower kicked off the 2012 "shooting star" season early Wednesday (Jan. 4), thrilling amateur astronomers around the world with dazzling views of the shattered remnants of a comet that broke apart centuries ago, NASA scientists say.
The image aboveof a rare early Quadrantid, was captured by a NASA meteor camera. The 2012 Quadrantids, a little-known meteor shower named after an extinct constellation peaked in the earlymorning hours of Jan. 4, the Quadrantids have a maximum rate of about 100 per hour, varying between 60-200. The waxing gibbous moon set around 3 a.m. local time, leaving about two hours of excellent meteor observing before dawn. The Quadrantids only last a few hours. Because of the location of the radiant -- northern tip of Bootes the Herdsman -- only northern hemisphere observers will be able to see Quadrantids.