Lyrid meteor shower will blind the sky before sunrise on April 22 with up to 20 shooting stars per hour
The Lyrid meteor shower returns this month for its annual dance across the night sky.
The highlight of the annual light show will be in the early morning hours of April 22, which happens to be Earth Day.
Although the shooting stars can be seen all over the world, the Northern Hemisphere has the best views, especially rural areas away from city lights.
The show coincides with a nearly full moon, and the brightness means fewer meteors will be visible, but stargazers can take a few steps to get a good glimpse.
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Particles from Comet Thatcher create the dust that makes up the Lyrid meteor shower, named after the constellation Lyra
The Lyrid meteor shower takes place every year from about April 16 to April 25.
This year, the downpour should start to build up late at night on April 19, reaching its peak late on April 21 and into the early morning hours of April 22, according to AccuWeather
That’s when it will produce the highest number of shooting stars – between 10 and 20 an hour after the moon has set, according to the American Meteor Society
Although the rain has no persistent traces, it can produce fireballs, which are exceptionally bright meteors that can be seen over a very wide area.
To determine where the Lyrid meteor shower will pass, use the brightest star in the constellation of Lyra to find the ‘shining one,’ or the point where meteors appear to be coming.
The best place to see the shower is the Northern Hemisphere, although they can be seen to a lesser extent from the Southern Hemisphere.
Rural locations, far from the light pollution of industrial areas, have the best views.
Unfortunately, the storm coincides with a bright waning moon, a phase very close to a full moon.
Due to the added moonlight, less of the storm is visible, although there is plenty to see without a telescope.
To determine where the meteors will pass, locate the brightest star in the constellation of Lyra to find what astronomers call the “ shining one. ”
Multiple exposures were combined to produce this image of the Lyrids meteor shower over Niederhollabrunn, Austria in April 2020. The meteors shoot through the sky at speeds of about 110,000 mph
This is the point in the sky from which the meteors become visible to us on Earth.
The Lyrid meteor shower got its name because its tracks appear to radiate from the constellation Lyra (the lyre).
HOW DO I SEE THE LYRID METEOR SHOWER?
The show runs between April 16 and 25, starts late April 19 and culminates on April 21.
The best place to see the Lyrid meteor shower is in the Northern Hemisphere, although it is visible from all over the world.
Rural areas far from city lights provide a clearer view.
The best time to catch these ‘shooting stars’ is before sunrise, when the moon is set.
Hopeful stargazers should look east for the best chance of a shower.
Lyrid meteors should be the brightest lights in the sky aside from the moon.
They leave smoky traces that can last for several minutes
The debris is actually from the orbit of Comet Thatcher.
Although Thatcher is quite far from Earth and orbits the sun only once every 415 years, cosmic debris scatters far and wide across its path.
As they burn, the meteors shoot through the sky at speeds of about 110,000 miles per hour.
While the Lyrids aren’t the brightest of showers – the Perseuds and Geminids both outdo them – they are among the first to be seen by humans.
They were first noticed by Chinese astronomers in 687 BC.
Although meteor showers can be seen from Earth, the meteoroids that cause them are actually no bigger than pebbles.
However, the meteorological show doesn’t end with the Lyrids: on April 26 and 27, amateur astronomers can see the first supermoon of 2021.
A supermoon is a full moon near perigee, or the point where it is closest to Earth.
It’s not easy to detect with the naked eye, but our celestial satellite will be up to 15 percent larger and 30 percent brighter than a typical full moon.
April’s full moon is also known as a ‘Pink Moon’, although there is no actual color change: its name comes from the fact that it coincides with the bloom of the moss phlox, a pink wildflower that blooms in the US and Canada.
Coincidence gives it the designation Super Pink Moon – but again, don’t look for a pink ball in the sky.
If you miss the Lyrids, you have another chance to catch a shooting star in early May, when Eta Aquariid’s meteor shower reaches its peak.
Watch the skies for up to 40 meteors per hour late May 5 and early May 6, Bill Cooke of NASA’s Meteoroid Environment Office said Thrillist
Named because their radiation appears to be in the constellation of Aquarius, the Eta Aquariids were created by debris from Halley’s comet.
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN AN ASTEROID, A COMET AND A METEORITE?
A asteroid is a large piece of rock left over from collisions or the early solar system. Most are located between Mars and Jupiter in the main belt.
A comet is a rock covered with ice, methane and other compounds. Their orbits take them much further out of the solar system.
A meteor is what astronomers call a flash of light in the atmosphere when debris burns up.
This debris itself is known as one meteoroidMost are so small that they are evaporated into the atmosphere.
When one of these meteoroid reaches Earth, it becomes one meteorite
Meteors, meteoroids and meteorites normally come from asteroids and comets.
For example, if Earth passes through the tail of a comet, much of the debris in the atmosphere burns and forms a meteor shower.