One of springtime’s generally prominent “shooting star” groups peaks overnight (April 21-22).
The well known Lyrid meteor shower will become visible in the Northern Hemisphere starting at about 10:30 p.m. nearby time and continuing overnight, weather permitting in your area of course. The best visibility will probably be before day break, after the waxing gibbous moon sets; else, you may have some interference from moonlight.
The individual meteors, or little space rocks, of the Lyrids appear when the Earth, moving in its orbit around the sun, plows into the dusty trail of a since a long-departed comet, called Thatcher, that swings by Earth every 415 years (the last time being in 1861, precisely 160 years prior).
The radiant, or point that the shooting stars appear to exude from, is in the Lyra constellation high over the horizon. You can discover your approach to Lyra by looking for Vega, one of the brightest stars of the northern sky. In any case, try to look slightly away from Lyra, in light of the fact that the meteors with the longest trails will show up well outside of the constellation.
You needn’t bother with telescopes or binoculars to see a meteor shower; your eyes will do. Dress warmly (April is still crisp in numerous U.S. areas) and get outside around 20 minutes before you intend to start your observations, to give your eyes time to acclimate to the darkness. Move away from any outdoor lights that you can and if conceivable, utilize a lounge chair to avoid neck pain while looking at the sky.
In fact the Lyrids proceed until April 30, yet NASA meteor master Bill Cooke revealed to Space.com that you should see the most meteors Wednesday into Thursday morning (April 21 to April 22). “Rise ahead of schedule before day break, after the moon has set. You have a very decent possibility of seeing some Lyrids this year,” Cooke said.
All things considered, NASA continue that the window of ideal review time Thursday is extremely short — likely just about 30 minutes before the sky brightens just before 5 a.m. local.
Cooke predicted skywatchers will see about 18 meteors 60 minutes — relying upon how dull your sky is, so move away from light pollution where you can (and if it’s protected to do as such, given that numerous regions of the world are under pandemic quarantines at this moment.)
The current year’s predicted quantity of visible meteors is well inside the usual range of 15 to 20 meteors 60 minutes. Now and again, Lyrid meteor showers can produce bursts of up to 100 meteors 60 minutes, yet Cooke said the forecast during the current year is improbable around there. Past prominent meteor showers were in 1803, 1922 (96 every hour) and in 1982 (80 every hour); 1803’s occasion was especially marvelous as the townspeople of Richmond, Virginia left their beds to see a shower that appeared to come from all parts of the sky.
Any meteors you can see this year will probably stick out. Skywatching columnist Joe Rao says the meteors are bright and swift, traveling through the atmosphere at average speeds of 30 miles (48 kilometers) each second. About a quarter of the individual meteors will leave large trains across the sky, maybe upwards of five to 10 such meteors during an night of excellent conditions around the peak shower date.