The sunrise on January 4 will be at 8.06 a.m.in London, so you'll want to be outside at least an hour before this around 7 a.m., since your eyes will need approximately 30 minutes to adjust to the darkness to allow you to see the lights in the sky correctly.
What time is the meteor shower tonight?
Astronomers had always been believed that the "Quads" could have derived relatively recently from a small comet. "If one is lucky, one can see a meteor or two during the night", he said.
The meteor showers are unique in that they are named for a constellation, "Quadrans Muralis", that isn't officially recognized. They originate from an asteroid called 2003 EH1. It will be just past first quarter, a waxing gibbous phase.
The American Meteor Society says the moon will be in its waxing phase, about 60% illuminated, but will set at about 1 a.m. Saturday, making viewing conditions for the meteor shower ideal for people in the eastern United States. In fact, circumstances for Quadrantid watching won't be as favorable as this until 2028. And indeed at this time of year, meteor watching can be a long, cold business. "You wait, you watch ... sometimes you catch something". Although this particular constellation is no longer used, it still lends its name to the meteor shower. Warm cocoa or coffee can take the edge off the chill, as well as provide a slight stimulus. It's even better if you can observe with friends. The shower's radiant is rising just to the right of the Canary Island of Tenerife's Teide volcano, and just below the familiar stars of the Big Dipper on the northern sky.
The best chance to see the shower is to position yourself looking North East after midnight on January 4.
But, if the skies should clear, there will be a great show.
Joe Rao serves as an instructor and guest lecturer at New York's Hayden Planetarium.