It's a new year, and a new meteor shower display is in the offing. The annual Quadrantids--which was first observed as a shower in the year 1839--will be peaking in the Western Hemisphere just before the dawn hours of January 3rd. Of course, this year the waning gibbous Moon will still be in the sky, and its light might obscure some of the fainter shooting stars, but the Quadrantids--a shower that is believed to originate from debris of a defunct comet that is now classified as asteroid 2003 EH1--are also known for having a high percentage of brighter meteors, so some splendid sights are still in store for early morning viewers.
The Quadrantids are so named because they radiate from the constellation Quadrans Muralis (the Mural Quadrant) which occupies the sky at the northern part of the nearby constellation of Bootes the Herdsman. Bootes will be found low in the eastern sky around midnight and will traverse the sky until it is overhead by dawn. Quadrans Muralis will thereby climb about 60 degrees high in the northeast by the time dawn breaks. Quadrans Muralis was originally the charting quadrant of French astronomer Jerome Lalande (1732-1807), who charted over 50,000 stars. The constellation received its name from French globe-maker J. Fortin when he placed it in his atlas in 1795.
Meanwhile, it is anticipated that this year's Quadrantids will peak at around 8AM EST on January 3rd, with anywhere from 60 to 200 meteors per hour and an average of 120; by contrast, the hourly rate of meteors viewed per hour on a "non-shower" night is roughly 6 meteors per hour. In any event, it is advisable to dress warm, and to ease strain on your neck muscles by sitting on a reclining lawn chair, if possible. To minimize interference from city lights, it is best for folks to find a spot far from them. There won't be any need for binoculars or telescopes because the human eye can view a wider field of the sky.