This year, the Lyrid meteor shower is expected to shower 10-15 meteors per hour at its peak time.
The annual Lyrid meteor shower is expected to dazzle our night sky in its peak on April 21 until the pre-dawn of April 22. This particular shower is visible in both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres. And it could be the biggest astronomical show of the year. Skywatchers from around the world are looking forward to witnessing the magic of the universe unfold.
According to NASA, "A meteor shower occurs when the Earth passes through the trail of debris left by a comet or asteroid. Meteors are bits of rocks and ice ejected from comets as they move in their orbits about the sun." NASA also reveals that the meteor showers get their names from the constellation where their radiant is located. So as per EarthSky, Lyrid meteor shower got its name from constellation Lyra near the brilliant star Vega.
NASA meteor expert Bill Cooke told Space.com that the peak viewing time for Lyrid meteor shower will be pre-dawn, like any other meteor shower. But the Lyrids would also be visible at about 10:30 p.m. local time. Cooke also mentioned that since the moon will be a thin crescent, the moonlight will not mar your viewing experience.
Additionally, as the moon will be moving toward its new-moon phase less than a day after the shower’s peak, the night sky is expected to be relatively darker, so any dark viewing point could be a good option. While the average Lyrid shower is known to produce 15-20 meteors per hour, this year skywatchers can expect about 10 per hour.
As per The Telegraph, the Lyrid meteor shower is one of the oldest meteor shower dating up to 2700 years back in time. "In the year 687 BC the ancient Chinese observed the meteors and recorded them in the ancient Zuo Zhan chronicles," quoted the outlet.
The Lyrid meteors are also called "fireballs" because these leave behind a smoke trail that lasts for a minute.
According to EarthSky, Lyrids are known to have outbursts which means hundreds of fireballs plummeting from outer space towards Earth, per hour. In 1982, American observers saw an outburst of nearly 100 Lyrid meteors per hour. In 1922, Greek observers witnessed the same and in 1945, the Japanese. While this year an outburst isn't predicted, one never knows.
Here are a few tips for the skywatchers waiting to witness this:
1. Look for a secluded place away from city lights. This might not be the best time for this advice, considering that stepping out of home isn't an option anymore, but if you live around the countryside you might have a chance.
2. Don't expect too much. 10 fireballs per hour seem like an easily missable number. But according to EarthSky, meteor showers, in general, are not as grand as one might hope. Apparently it is believed, "Meteor showers are like fishing. You go. You enjoy the night air and maybe the company of friends. Sometimes you catch something."
3. Skywatchers in the Southern hemisphere, the good time for you to witness this will be right before dawn because that's when star Vega rises for you. You might witness fewer meteors but there are chances that you might see some.