Lyrid Meteor Shower Greets Earth Day Morning with Lit Skies

Stargazers are in for more heavenly treat because the oldest known meteor shower, the April Lyrid, is expected to peak on Tuesday, Tech Times reported.

The annual meteor shower is visible between April 16 and 25, with the best possible viewing on Monday night going into Tuesday dawn, NASA said.
"Everyone in the Northern Hemisphere can see the Lyrid meteor shower tonight," said astronomer Bill Cooke on the NASA website.

Incidentally, the Lyrid meteor shower will take place just in time for 2014's Earth Day celebrations.

NASA astronomers said the cosmic show happens every April, when the Earth travels into the stream containing bits and debris from the Comet C/1861 G2 Thatcher. The debris then falls in the Earth's atmosphere, resulting in an annual cosmic dance, according to the Washington Post.

"Look for the familiar constellation Lyra, rising in the Northeast at 10 p.m. It'll be high overhead by 4 a.m. This month's Lyrid meteor shower peaks on the night of April 22 and the morning of April 23," said James Houston Jones, NASA astronomer, according to the Washington Post. "But you'll spot some Lyrids any night between the 16th and the 25th."

The Lyrid meteor showers have been happening for over 2,600 years, astronomers said.
Experts said meteor shower newbies will be able to differentiate normal meteors and those that are part of specific showers by tracing the path of a meteor. For instance, if the meteor came from a point in the sky that belongs within the constellation Lyra, then the meteor is part of the Lyrid shower, astronomers said.
"The peak rate is expected to be 15 to 20 meteors per hour. The third quarter moon rises an hour past midnight, brightening the sky," said Jones. "But the moon will only obscure the fainter meteors. Luckily, the Lyrids are known to produce bright meteors, many with persistent trains."
Skygazers who are interested to see the shower should find a place away from city lights, Cooke said. He added that the eyes should be given from 30 to 45 minutes time to adjust to the dark skies by trying to avoid looking at the moon and other bright lights.
"Lie on your back and look up (avoid looking at the bright moon), allowing your eyes to take in as much sky as possible," Cooke said.

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