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Earth Passed Through 'Fireworks' From a Shattered Comet, NASA Says

Jan 03, 2017 11:32 AM EST
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The Annual Perseid Meteor Shower Offers Celestial Show In Night Sky
A different kind of firework will illuminate the sky on Jan. 3. The Quadrantids meteor shower is scientifically interesting since it is coming from a shattered comet and an extinct constellation.
(Photo : Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

January is an exciting month for stargazers. Aside from bright Vesta asteroid and Venus high, there is one astounding firework that will take place this month.

And no, the fireworks are not man made but a meteor shower. What makes it more interesting than the usual shower of shooting stars is the fact that the shower originates from a shattered comet and a basically non-existent constellation. This information makes it more scientifically interesting.

The Quadrantids meteor shower is an annual display of shooting stars that usually occurs from Jan. 1 to Jan. 5. This year, the shower will peak on Jan. 3. The Earth will pass through debris from comet 2003 EH1, also believed to be an asteroid. It is expected to peak at about 6:00 am PST across the Pacific and some parts of North America, according to a report.

"Extra motivation to go out and view the Quadrantids is provided by the shower's reputation for producing spectacular fireballs," Brian Day of NASA's Ames Research Center said in a statement. "Not only are these fireballs memorable visual events but also they are of scientific interest," Day added.

The source of the shower, 2003 EH1 is an asteroid that believed to be a part of a comet that had broken apart 500 years ago said NASA. This means the debris are remnants of an ancient comet. This is where the name "shattered comet" came from. The piece of the comet, which then became an asteroid, is the source of the said annual meteor shower.

But another interesting scientific fact about the shower is that is originated from a now extinct constellation called Quadrans Muralis. Quadrans Muralis was removed from the maps in 1922 by the International Astronomical Union but the meteor shower got to keep its name.

 Stargazers will now have more "fireworks" to watch out for during the start of 2017.


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