The skies should be clear over most of North America tonight. The moon will have set by four in the morning, eastern time, tomorrow. And that’s good, because a brief, but intense, meteor shower will hit, coming out of the north-east (just a little below the handle of the Big Dipper), between 0300 and 0500 zone time tomorrow morning, 04 January 2012.
These are the Quadrantids, what’s left of a comet that broke up around 500 years ago. We’re passing perpendicularly through the debris field, which accounts for both the brevity and the intensity (up to 200 meteors per hour) of the shower.
This timing favors North America with local peak times ranging from 02:30am EST on January 4th to 11:30 PST on January 3rd. The eastern half of North America will be more favorable as the radiant will lie higher in the sky at the time of maximum activity.