Lyrids meteor shower: How, when and where to watch the amazing phenomenon this month
The Lyrids meteor shower is named after the constellation 'Lyra' and is historically the oldest recorded to exist. It will be visible from April 22 to 23 (April 21 to 22 for some, depending on timezones).
While you're cooped up at home and waiting for this pandemic to subside, you can revel in the wonders of nature as it puts on a wonderful show for the world. Everyone's at home and the skies are relatively clear, so you can be sure witness to the annual Lyrids meteor shower which will be visible from April 22 to 23 (April 21 to 22 for some, depending on timezones).
It is one of the smaller meteor showers that occur every year, comprising some 20 visible meteors an hour, at its peak. The Lyrids meteor shower is named after the constellation 'Lyra' and is historically the oldest recorded. Some Chinese texts illustrate that the shower was seen some 2,700 years ago in 687BC. The Zuo Zhan chronicles recorded the following: "On the 4th month in the summer in the year of xīn-mǎo (of year 7 of King Zhuang of Lu), at night, (the sky is so bright that some) fixed stars become invisible (because of the meteor shower); at midnight, stars fell like rain."
Meteors are more visible and easy to view when the skies are darker. So if the moon isn't blazing bright you can be sure to catch a glimpse of the showers later this month. The Lyrids will soon be followed by the Eta Aquarids, a more active shower that will occur between May 6 and 7 and viewers will be able to spot up to 60 meteors per hour at its peak.
A Lyrid meteor shower occurs when the Earth passes through a debris stream in the orbit of the comet, Thatcher. It takes about 415 years to orbit around the Sun and the meteors cut through the comet's debris, creating its fireballs. The comet is expected to be visible from Earth only in 2276. Meteors are what most people perceive to be shooting stars, but in reality, they have nothing to do with stars.
There is no need for a telescope any other special viewing equipment to watch the meteor shower. As long as the sky is dark and clear, a little waiting will yield results. All you have to ensure is that you find a viewing spot that is blinded by darkness and preferably away from lights. Be warned that your eyes will need 15 to 20 minutes to adjust to the darkness. Meteor shower spotting is also time-consuming because there is a whole lot of waiting involved, so make sure you have a chair or stool to sit on and wait comfortably.