Stargazers will get an early treat in 2012 with the annual Quadrantid meteor shower, which will be active from January 1 to 7.

The Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) said the meteor shower will peak Jan. 3 to 4, with 40 meteors seen per hour.

"The observation of its peak activity on January 3-4 in which meteors or 'falling stars' can be seen at the rate of at least 40 meteors per hour. The shower will appear to radiate from the constellation of Bootes," PAGASA administrator Nathaniel Servando said.

Servando said the Quadrantid meteor shower hits the Earth's atmosphere at the rate of about 40 km per second.

He said the incinerated dust is believed to be particles from the debris ejected by the near-Earth asteroid 2003 EH.

Meanwhile, PAGASA said Venus will be visible in January, shining brilliantly at magnitude -3.8 and will be standing at about 20 degrees above the west southwestern horizon.

"It will lie between the boundary of the constellation Capricornus, the Goat and Aquarius, the Water Bearer. The brightest planet will be observable throughout the evening sky of the month of January," Servando said.

Mars and Saturn will also be visible.

Mercury will be found low in the east-southeastern horizon until it slides down from the evening sky on January 17.

Jupiter, Uranus and Neptune will be found above the west-southwestern part of the sky and will lie among the background stars of the constellation Pisces, the Fish for Jupiter and Uranus and the constellation Aquarius, the Water Bearer for Neptune.

Stars and constellations

Servando said the famous equilateral triangle in the sky, the Winter Triangle, rises after sunset.

It includes Betelgeuse, the super giant red star and the prominent star of the famous constellation Orion (the Mighty Hunter), Sirius, the brightest star in the sky of the constellation Canis Major (the Big Dog), and Procyon, the brightest star of the constellation Canis Minor (the Little Dog).

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