The Lyrid meteor shower is visible each year towards the end of April when Earth crashes through the dusty tail of Comet Thatcher. Although you might spot individual meteors in the run-up to the event, meteor showers are best seen on the night of their peak.
This year, the Lyrids will peak on the night of April 21 to April 22.
During the peak, Earth will pass through the densest portion of Comet Thatcher’s orbital trail.
But if you look out your window after midnight tonight, you might already be able to catch one or two Lyrids already crisscrossing the sky.
Find out below where to best see the annual meteor shower.
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What is the Lyrid meteor shower?
As the Comet C/1861 G1 Thatcher orbits the Sun, bits and pieces of the space rock break off and are left behind in its trail.
According to the Royal Observatory Greenwich in London, Earth happens to cross the comet’s orbit this time of the year.
The Observatory said: “The Lyrid meteor shower is a burst of meteor activity occurring around mid to late April.
“Meteors are small chunks of debris left in the wake of certain celestial objects, like asteroids or comets.
“When the Earth passes through this trail of material, it scoops up a number of these pieces which fall into the atmosphere.
These objects are moving extremely fast – about 50km/s
Royal Observatory Greenwich
“These objects are moving extremely fast – about 50km/s – compared to the relatively still atmosphere.”
The small space rocks then burn up and will sometimes transform into spectacular fireballs.
The Lyrids appear to radiate from the constellation Lyra, hence their name.
This year, between 10 and 20 meteors will be visible during the peak.
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Where to see the Lyrid meteor shower tonight?
Due to the nationwide coronavirus lockdown, your options are limited this year.
But if you have a private garden you can access then you still have a chance to spot the Lyrids.
Alternatively, click here to watch the meteor shower live online.
Meteor showers are best seen in dark and secluded areas where light pollution does not wash out the skies.
Stargazers in rural parts of the country are often best suited to hunt down meteors because there is very little light to obscure the view.
The Royal Observatory said: “A bright sky will drown out the fainter meteors making them much more difficult to see.”
Look through your window tonight after midnight, when the skies will be at their darkest.
If you do not spot any meteors tonight, keep in mind the shower will peak on Wednesday morning.
The Observatory said: “The best time to see the shower is in the early morning of the peak day, which this year is the morning of April 22 – the night of April 21.
“Wait until after midnight when the radiant point, in the constellation of Lyra, will have risen in the East.
“The later in the morning you wait, the higher the radiant will rise and the fewer meteors will be hidden below the horizon.
“But the closer you get to sunrise the brighter the sky is going to become so plan accordingly.”
If you have a garden, simply go outside and lie down on your back.
Try to take in as much of the night sky as possible and give your eyes up to 30 minutes to adjust to the dark.
The Observatory said: “Lying on the ground is a great way to see as much as possible – blanket optional but highly recommended.
“Reclining deckchairs make an even more comfortable way to view the sky.
“Also, even though summer is rapidly approaching, remember to wrap up warm.”
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