THE first meteor shower of spring will be taking over the sky this week.
The Lyrids meteor shower started last night and some stunning pictures of it can be seen below.
It will peak on Tuesday night/Wednesday morning so there's still plenty of time to try and spot the meteors with your own eyes.
The Lyrid meteor shower is made from falling debris from the comet Thatcher.
The best time to watch is between midnight and dawn, somewhere with an open sky and less light that’ll let viewers see the sky clearly.
Bille Cooke, a NASA meteor expert, told Space.com that the average Lyrid shower has around 15 to 20 meteors per hour.
However, this year, skygazers might see around 10 per hour, depending on how clear the sky is.
He said that some years, the meteor shower can show off with around 100 meteors per hour, which he describes as an “outburst.”
Each year, the Lyrid meteor shower is expected from around April 16 to 25, but this year astronomers expect it to streak from Sunday to April 30.
For those wanting to catch a glimpse of the meteor shower, they should look east, as the radiant point for the Lyrid is near the constellation Lyra, which has bright star Vega in the east.
Astronomers say viewers don’t need to be an expert to see the shooting stars; just look toward the east in an area with clear sky with no artificial lights.
The meteor shower is much more visible in the Northern Hemisphere, so the viewing in the U.S. and the United Kingdom should be optimal.
NASA suggests coming to meteor showering-viewings “prepared with a sleeping bag, blanket or lawn chair.”
“Lie flat on your back with your feet facing east and look up, taking in as much of the sky as possible.”
After around 30 minutes of darkness, the human eye will “adapt and you will begin to see meteors.”
Astronomers note that patience is important, as the “the show will last until dawn, so you have plenty of time to catch a glimpse.”
What's the difference between an asteroid, meteor and comet?
Here's what you need to know, according to Nasa…
- Asteroid: An asteroid is a small rocky body that orbits the Sun. Most are found in the asteroid belt (between Mars and Jupiter) but they can be found anywhere (including in a path that can impact Earth)
- Meteoroid: When two asteroids hit each other, the small chunks that break off are called meteoroids
- Meteor: If a meteoroid enters the Earth's atmosphere, it begins to vapourise and then becomes a meteor. On Earth, it'll look like a streak of light in the sky, because the rock is burning up
- Meteorite: If a meteoroid doesn't vapourise completely and survives the trip through Earth's atmosphere, it can land on the Earth. At that point, it becomes a meteorite
- Comet: Like asteroids, a comet orbits the Sun. However rather than being made mostly of rock, a comet contains lots of ice and gas, which can result in amazing tails forming behind them (thanks to the ice and dust vapourising)
In other news, fears that coronavirus could reach the ISS have emerged after a Russian official at a the recent rocket launch tested positive.
Nasa revealed a rare image of a comet breaking up.
And, the space agency recently gave out some new grants for innovative space projects.
Did you watch the recent meteor shower? Let us know in the comments…
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