Meteor showers and a Supermoon are set to light up the New Year skies this week in the first astronomical spectacles of 2018.

The annual Quandrantid meteor shower peaks in early January, producing as many as 50 to 100 meteors, appearing as shooting stars in the sky.

Unlike many other meteor showers, which tend to be visible for about two days, the peak period of the Quandrantids only lasts for a few hours.

This year, it also coincides with a supermoon, expected to be the biggest and brightest of 2018, meaning it will be harder than usual to see the Quadrantids.

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When is the supermoon?

The rare phenomenon that is a supermoon is set to take place tonight.

What is a supermoon?

A supermoon occurs during a full or new moon when the centre of the moon is less than 223,694 miles from the centre of the Earth.

The moon will appear bigger than usual in the sky. During the winter months, the northern hemisphere supermoons tend to look larger as Earth is closer to the sun.

This means the sun's gravity pulls the moon closer to the earth, making any winter super full moons look bigger than summer super full moons.

When can I see it?

Look up tonight.

The second supermoon will be on January 31, called the Blue Moon.

When is the Quadrantid meteor shower?

The Quadrantid meteor shower is set to run until Wednesday, January 17, 2018, with a sharp peak on the night of Wednesday, January 3.

It is expected to peak between 8pm and 9pm, when sky watchers should be able to see up to 40 meteors per hour, according to NASA's Hubble Space Telescope mission team.

What is the Quadrantid meteor shower?

Named after the now-defunct constellation Quadrans Muralis, the Quadrantid meteor shower is one of only two major meteor showers not originating from a comet - the other being the Geminids in December.

The Quadrantids are associated with an asteroid, known as 2003 EH1, which takes about 5.5 years to orbit the Sun.

The main difference between asteroids and comets is their composition. Asteroids are made up of metals and rocky material, while comets are made up of ice, dust and rocky material.

According to NASA meteor expert Bill Cooke, 2003 EH1 may be an extinct comet.

"It was either a piece of a comet or a comet itself, and then it became extinct," which means that all the ice and other volatiles on the comet have evaporated, he told Space.com.

Where to watch the Quadrantid meteor shower

Observers in the Northern Hemisphere are best placed to view the Quadrantids, provided the skies are clear.

Try to find a dark patch of sky, outside of town and as far away as possible from artificial lights, and give your eyes about 20-30 minutes to adjust.

Be aware that the brilliant light from the full moon may outshine all but the brightest Quadrantids.

How to watch the Quadrantid meteor shower

Binoculars and telescopes are not useful for meteor showers - your eyes are enough to see the shooting stars streaking overhead.

For the best view of the Quadrantids, astronomers suggest lying down on the ground and looking for the constellation Bootes.

The easiest way to find it is to look north for the Big Dipper. Then, follow the "arc" of the Big Dipper's handle across the sky to the red giant star Arcturus, which anchors the bottom of Bootes, reports The Mirror .

Robert Lunsford of the American Meteor Society recommends keeping Bootes in your field of view, but looking slightly away so that you catch the meteors with the longer tails.