A "shooting star" streaks the sky over ruins in Damghan—an ancient Iranian city 224 miles (360 kilometers) northeast of Tehran—early Tuesday during the peak of the 2011 Quadrantid meteor shower. This year the Quadrantids peak featured rates of more than a hundred meteors an hour.
The peak coincided with the dark new moon in Tuesday's predawn hours, creating ideal viewing conditions—a moonless sky made many of the fainter meteors visible. The meteor shower's peak was best viewed from Europe and Central Asia, although North American sky-watchers were able to catch the trailing end of the show.
In general, the Quadrantids are considered one of the most reliable and productive of the annual meteor displays, but they're not as well known, Conrad Jung, staff astronomer at the Chabot Space & Science Centre in Oakland, California, told National Geographic News.
"While it doesn't grab much headlines, being set in the tail end of the winter holidays, the Quadrantids are about as intense as the [August] Perseids, and [they] promise to put on a pretty light show for those sky-watchers willing to brave the chilly weather to look for them."
With reporting by Andrew Fazekas