The Quadrantids are often the most intense of the year's regular meteor showers, but also one of the shortest. They happen when Earth passes through the narrow trail of debris left by an asteroid called 2003 EH1, so they only last a few hours. If it's cloudy where you are Wednesday morning, go back to bed and stay warm -- but if it's clear, astronomers say you could see 60-200 streaks across the sky per hour.
What you're seeing are tiny particles, some no larger than grains of sand, plunging into the atmosphere at speeds of up to 90,000 mph. They typically burn up -- a quick and spectacular death -- about 50 miles overhead.
As frequent overnight trippers to catch the annual Perseid showers in summer, we can say that if you've got a view to enjoy a meteor shower, it's completely worth the trouble.
[Photo: TWAN/National Geographic]