The best viewing for the Quadrantid meteor shower is when it's supposed to peak Friday night into the pre-dawn hours Saturday morning, according to Accuweather.

While Perseid meteor showers typically get better publicity, there is a winter shower of shooting stars happening right now, if you are looking for something to brighten up a long winter night.

The best viewing for the Quadrantid meteor shower is when it's supposed to peak Friday night into the pre-dawn hours Saturday morning, according to Accuweather.

If the weather permits, sky watchers could see 50 to 200 meteors an hour, said Greg Williams, president of the Shasta Astronomy Club. How many meteors viewers see depends on where the Earth is in relationship to the debris field, he said.

"It really depends on what part of that comet debris field we move through," he said.

The best time to view the meteor shower is during the early morning, about an hour before sunrise, Williams said.

To get the best look at meteors shooting through the sky, viewers should turn to the east because as the Earth moves through space it rotates toward the comet debris field it is moving through, Williams said.

He also recommended driving out to a dark area to get a good view of the night sky.

The comet debris consists of small particles mostly ranging in size from a grain of sand to a pebble, he said.

"Basically, we're traveling through a garbage trail," he said.

While the Quadrantid and Perseid meteor showers get a name, clusters of shooting stars aren't that unusual, he said.

"There are meteor showers every two to three months. This one is just a little more famous," he said. When the weather cooperates, winter is a better time for viewing shooting stars and the night sky in general, he said.

In the summer there are fewer clouds but when the atmosphere is warmer light refracts more, making stars and other objects more difficult to see, he said. That's why stars twinkle more in the summer, he said.

In the winter, star gazers have to deal with clouds, rain and other precipitation but the colder nights make for more consistent atmospheric temperatures and less light refraction. That means brighter, clearer nights — at least when skies aren't cloudy.

Unfortunately, night viewing may be hit-and-miss this weekend in Siskiyou County. The best chance might be tonight, when the skies will be partly cloudy, according to the National Weather Service. High winds are expected through Saturday morning; skies at that point are predicted to be mostly cloudy with rain and snow.

And just what is happening when you see the light from a meteor streak across the sky?

It's not a burning meteor that creates the long flash of light, but the photons — or particles of light — that are emitted as a by-product of heat and pressure created by the meteor as it moves through the sky, stripping electrons from the atoms from elements in the atmosphere, Williams said.

"It's rather our atmosphere that is burning," he said.