Stargazers, rejoice! This week marks the start of the first notable meteor shower of 2021, and the forecast calls for many clear nights to enjoy it.
The Lyrid meteor shower will begin on Friday, April 16. It would last until Sunday, April 25. According to the American Meteor Society, the shower will peak between Wednesday, April 21, and Thursday, April 22.
Although the Lyrids aren't the most active meteor shower of the year, EarthSky said the phenomenon would produce 10 to 15 shooting stars per hour at their height. The report added that the best viewing time - anywhere in the world - is usually between midnight and dawn.
What Is A Meteor Shower?
The BBC's Science Focus Magazine said a meteor shower, like Lyrids, displays shooting stars from a specific location in the sky.
Comets leave a trail of debris behind them as they orbit the Sun. We name these fragments, most of which are smaller than a grain of sand, meteors as they reach the Earth's atmosphere.
Meteors accelerate at incredible speeds, and almost half of them disintegrate when they pass into the atmosphere. The flash of light they emit when they disintegrate is what we see.
The meteor shower is named for the location in the atmosphere that the meteors seem to come from.
'Fireballs' are a possibility
American Meteor Society said the Lyrids don't usually have persistent trains. Still, they do emit 'fireballs.'
A fireball is another name for a very bright meteor, usually brighter than magnitude -4, which is around the same magnitude as Venus in the morning or evening sky."
To prevent light pollution that obscures heavenly bodies' clarity, stargazers can move as far away from city lights as possible. Although this works best in more remote locations, it will also provide better viewing conditions anywhere with a higher elevation.
If you can't get out that night or the weather isn't cooperating where you are, CNet said the night before or after the peak should provide a decent viewing opportunity.
Where Lyrid Meteor Shower Comes From
The Lyrids will seem to derive away from their namesake constellation Lyra. It would travel away from that portion like a wheel, despite not looking at a specific part of the sky. So it's nice if you can find Lyra and guide yourself towards it, but it's not necessary.
The Lyrids originate from the debris cloud left behind by C/1861 G1 Thatcher. Experts saw this comet in the 19th century and won't travel through the inner solar system for another two decades.
On the other hand, our planet drifts through the dust cloud it left behind on previous visits every year.
Small space pebbles and other pieces of dust and debris collide with our atmosphere and burn up high above us, creating the brief light that shows that so many people can stay up late or get up early to see.
Check out more news and information on Space on Science Times.