Lyrid Meteor Shower: 5 Things To Know About Oldest Annual Viewing of Shooting Stars
Get ready to see the night sky light up with shooting stars. The Lyrid Meteor Shower will soon hit its breathtaking peak, so find out the vital details about this celestial extravaganza.
1. The shower has been going on for a nearly a week, but its “finale” is on April 22. The Lyrid Meteor Shower began on April 16, according to Quartz, and will continue until April 25. However, the peak of the shower – where the meteors will fall at a rate of 10 to 20 per hour – will happen in the late hours of April 21/just before dawn on April 22. The quarter moon will set after midnight, locally, creating “dark skies as the shower kicks into high gear,” according to National Geographic.
2. Their name is a hint as to where to look. The Lyrids are called that because the meteors seem to be located in the Lyra constellation, near the star Vega. The meteors are caused by particles left behind Comet Thatcher, who is on a 416-year orbit (which is considered relatively short, when it comes to comets.) The orbit is perpendicular to the plane of the solar system, which has prevented the material in the comet’s gravitational pull from being scattered by the pull of planets. Every year, Earth passes through a part of the Comet Thatcher’s orbit, and the dusty debris burns up in our atmosphere.
3. Astrologers have been watching this meteor storm for thousands of years. Chinese astronomers in 687 B.C. first noted that this meteor shower was so intense, they were “falling like rain.” In 1803, a newspaper said the storm was visible across the eastern United States. For more than 2,600 years, humans have witnessed the Lyrid Meteor Storm. The best ever Lyrid storm happened in 1982 in the JUS,
4. Things could get wild! In 1922, stargazers saw a Lyrid rate of 96 meteors per hour, according to Space.com. In 1982, rates reached 80 per hour. The Lyrids are usually weak – but reliable – so seeing more than 20 per hour is unusual. However, a dazzling display is quite possible.
All you have to do is look up. There is no need for binoculars, telescopes or any kind of high-tech equipment, according to National Geographic. So long as you have clear skies (and are able to get away from an urban areas with light pollution) then a sky gazer just needs a chair, a cup of something to keep them warm and an endless sense of wonderment at the endless scope of eternity.
Source: Read Full Article