When is the Lyrid meteor shower and how to watch it?

Pat Wise
April 18, 2018

The Lyrid meteor shower is one of the oldest known meteor showers.

The Lyrids are best viewed in the Northern Hemisphere during the dark hours (after moonset and before dawn).

The moon will cooperate this weekend as the annual Lyrid meteor shower peaks.

A meteor shower will light up the skies just before dawn over Britain this week, with hundreds of shooting stars which could be visible to the naked eye.

The peak of the Lyrid shower is essentially a burst of meteors, which typically lasts for less than a day and can, on occasion, reach remarkable numbers of up to 100 meteors or more (a phenomenon called an "outburst"). According to NASA scientists, the meteor shower has been observed for more than 26,00 years. That's when the meteor shower is supposed to "peak", with around 10-20 meteors per hour showing, according to EarthSky.

Stargazers are in for a spectacular display this week, as the Lyrid meteor shower is set to light up the skies.

An outburst of Lyrid meteors is always a possibility, though no Lyrid outburst is predicted for 2018.

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Luckily, the moon will not interfere with the 2018 Lyrid meteor shower, NASA meteor expert Bill Cooke told Space.com.

So, grab a warm blanket to shield you from the cool morning air and head out to a secluded place outside the city, lie down on the grass or on the hood of your auto with your feet pointing east and look up.

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The best times to watch the Lyrid meteor shower will be after midnight and just before dawn, the Met Office says.

The meteor shower gets its name because it appears from a point to the right of the blue-white star Vega, which is the brightest light in the constellation - Lyra the Harp.

The Lyrid meteor shower, which is one of the oldest meteor showers, occurs every year when the Earth crosses the orbital path of the Comet Thatcher, bringing pieces of the comet into the upper atmosphere that light up the sky as they burn up.

It's always remarkable to see how surprised people are when they spot a meteor, since bright meteors are not all that uncommon.

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