Ever wondered about falling stars? Twirling planets? Twinkling stars? Sounds like a fairytale! Isn’t it? This weekend, April 22 people are going to get this fairytale view of falling meteors. The ‘Lyrid Meteor Shower’ is a phenomenon where the number of meteors fall for few hours during dawn.The Lyrid meteor shower takes place in April every year. This year, the shower will be most visible on Saturday, April 22, after midnight and just before dawn on Sunday, April 23.
What actually is the ‘Lyrid Meteor Shower’?
The Lyrids are considered the oldest meteor showers are known, having been recorded for around 2,700 years. They are named after the constellation Lyra, where they appear to radiate outwards from. The shower is caused when Earth passes through a region of the solar system where there’s lots of debris from a comet called C/1861 G1 Thatcher. As the rock and dust that have fallen from the comet pass through the Earth’s upper atmosphere it vaporizes, turning into shooting stars that burn up before reaching the ground. The Lyrid meteor shower usually produces up to 20 meteors per hour, each traveling around 30 miles per second. They usually don't leave trails but sometimes produce big fireballs.
A meteor shower happens when a number of meteors flash across the sky from roughly the same point. The annual Lyrid meteor shower takes places annually between April 16 and April 25. In 2017, it will peak on the morning of April 22, with the greatest number of meteors falling during the few hours before dawn.
Where is it happening?
A dark area - away from city light pollution. NASA says since the moon will be nearly to its new moon phase, we can expect excellent moon-less viewing conditions. The actual new moon is on April 26. Even better news is that skies in the greater Portland metro area will likely be clear for peak viewing time, after what's expected to be a sunny, cloudless Friday. People in the Northern Hemisphere, particularly Europe are best placed to see the light show.
The shooting stars will be visible to the naked eye so no astronomical equipment is necessary. It's recommended that you step outside and look up at the sky 20 minutes before the shower is due to take place. This way your eyes will adjust to the night sky.