Come April and it is time to witness the annual Lyrid Meteor shower. Those who live in the northern hemisphere will be able to enjoy a spectacular view of the night skies for 10 days in April.
This particular year, the meteor shower is expected to take place between 16th April and 25th April. The Lyrid meteor shower is one of the oldest meteor showers experienced by our planet. The oldest sightings date as far back as 2700 years. This meteor shower takes place every year around the same time.
It is known to have between 10 to 20 meteors sighted every hour. This year is particularly good for those who want to observe this rather extravagant display of the power of the celestial bodies. Because this year, the Moon would have set by the time the meteor shower reaches its peak. This means a darker sky and a brighter and more visible meteor shower.
What exactly are Meteors and how are they formed?
Our planet Earth and its sister planets are not the only bodies that revolve around the sun. Space is filled with other equally enchanting and interesting bodies. Comets are one such celestial body. Their paths are usually much more elaborate round the sun and thus take comparatively more time to complete one revolution.
When a comet or an asteroid gets chipped off, because of the immense pressure and temperature of outer space, these debris particles form meteoroids. These meteoroids are like huge chunks of rock or such matter that are left behind in the path of a comet.
When Earth moves along the same path that a comet or an asteroid took, there are chances that the trajectory of Earth’s motion and that of these meteoroids will interject. At such an intersection, they will enter the Earth’s gravity field and thus penetrate the Earth’s atmosphere.
However due to the gravitational pull they will start falling towards the surface very rapidly. Changes in the atmospheric pressure at such a rapid speed causes them to break apart even further and the extreme friction of the atmosphere causes them to vaporize long before they can hit the surface.
But this friction and subsequent vaporization causes them to leave a blazing trail behind them; which many people call shooting stars or Meteors. As you can imagine it is quite a spectacle to watch.
What exactly are Lyrid meteors then?
These are the meteoroids that broke off a particular comet which goes by the name of Thatcher. Comet Thatcher is known to have an orbit of around 415 years round the sun. The trajectory that Thatcher makes around the Sun comes on the orbit of Earth during April every year.
What is meant by Meteor Outburst?
As mentioned before, it is expected to observe anywhere between 10-20 Meteors per hour in a typical meteor shower. However on some rare occasions these numbers can shoot up to hundred or even a thousand meteorites per hour. Such an event is known as an outburst and there is no way to predict when it will take place. People have made many observations but the best form of concrete data has only been able to narrow down the average, which comes at 30 years.
When to see the Shower?
You can see them on any night of the 10 day period mentioned. However it will be at its best on 22nd’s morning between 12 and 5.
How to see it?
You don’t need to have any special equipment to see the shower. It can be observed by locating the star Vega. That will be the origin point of the shower but keep a wide perspective to catch some of the best sights.
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