The time of the year to watch the skies for the Lyrid meteor shower has come. It meteor shower on a low key note on April 16 and will last until April 25.
For the 2017 edition, the peak will happen on the night of April 22 and the morning of April 23 and theoretically it will be through April 24.
The dazzling spectacle of shooting stars playing out in the night sky is an enthralling delight stargazers look forward to every April. Skywatchers may get to see at least 20 meteors in an hour during peak hours.
Those in the Northern Hemisphere, especially Europe, will see the light show vividly. Watching away from light pollution and when the sky is clear will prove to be a great experience.
What causes the Lyrid meteor shower are the interactions that follow when Earth passes through the dust left by comet C/186 G1 Thatcher. As Earth passes through that region of the solar system where the comet's debris is spread out, the interaction with Earth's upper atmosphere causes the vaporization of dust, leading to a colorful meteor shower.
Key Dates For Watching The 2017 Lyrid Meteor Shower
For this year's Lyrid meteor shower, the important date is April 22, when it is set to peak in the evening and with little interference from the waning crescent moon. The peak extends to the morning of April 23.
The pre-dawn hours will offer the spectacle of the highest number of falling meteors. The meteors will burn up in the atmosphere at an altitude of 100 kilometers (62 miles). The Lyrid meteor shower takes its name from the constellation Lyra, where you'll find Vega, the second brightest star in the Northern Hemisphere.
Ideally, it is possible to spot a Lyrid meteor anytime during the shower (April 16-25), with most meteors probably falling in the dark hours before dawn on April 22.
How To Watch The Meteor Shower?
Make sure the night sky is clear before venturing out in the darkness to watch it. An overcast sky will mar the chances of seeing the shower.
If the sky is clear, get ready to watch and spend at least 30 minutes outside to adjust to the darkness.
Find a good spot where you will be able to see as much of the sky as possible. Look northeast, where Vega rises after 10 p.m. The meteors will look as if they were coming from that star.
No need to use binoculars or telescopes to see the meteor shower as they will constrain the view - simply look up and wait for the shooting stars to appear. Expect the light show to come in spurts with lulls in between.
In a moonless sky, expect 10 to 20 Lyrid meteors in an hour during the peak.
Normally a meteor leaves trails of ionized gas glowing for a few seconds after it passes. Lyrid meteors are also expected to do the same. Some meteors also leave a plume of smoke, earning them the name "fireballs." These fireballs, similar in size to small rocks, generate a lot of heat while burning up, leaving behind a trail of illuminated smoke for a few seconds.