The Lyrid meteor shower is one of the oldest known showers on the astronomical calendar and provides an amazing display for those who can seek out a bit of clear night sky.
It takes place every April and, if the conditions are right, starwatchers can see up to 20 shooting stars per hour blaze across the sky.
The Lyrids also take place as the weather is getting slightly warmer – so you don’t have to brave the Arctic-like conditions of watching a meteor shower in wintertime.
Although the shower is only classed as "average" it happens every year. It occurs as the Earth passes through the dust left over from comet C/186 G1 Thatcher, which makes a full orbit of the sun once every 415 years.
Here’s everything you need to know about this year’s shower.
When does the Lyrid meteor shower peak?
The Lyrid meteor shower takes place towards the end of April every year. In 2018, it will run from April 16 to April 25.
The meteor shower is set to peak on the night of April 21st and the morning of April 22nd.
The best time to see it will be between midnight and dawn on the morning of Sunday 22nd, but you’ll get good views all through that weekend.
Where is the best place to spot the shooting stars?
People in the Northern Hemisphere, particularly Europe are best placed to see the light show.
As usual, the best way to see the meteor shower is to make sure you’re away from any intrusive light pollution.
What is the Lyrid meteor shower?
One of the oldest known meteor showers, the Lyrid is named after the constellation Lyra.
It’s caused when Earth passes through a region of the solar system where there’s lots of debris from a comet called C/186 Thatcher.
As the bits of debris from the comet crash through the Earth’s upper atmosphere they vaporises, turning into the colourful meteor shower.
Is there anything special I need to do to see them from the UK
First of all look up at the sky to see if it’s a clear night. If it’s overcast, you won’t see much.
Provided it’s clear, you should wrap up warm and head outside – use sleeping bags and hot water bottles if necessary – and spend at least 30 minutes outside getting used to the darkness.
Once you’ve settled on a spot, look up and try and take in as much of the sky as possible – you should be looking towards the star Vega, which is the second brightest star in the sky (in the Northern Hemisphere).
Do I need any special kit?
You don’t need any binoculars or a telescope to see the showers – they will limit your view too much. Just stare generally at the sky and they should start to appear.
Don’t lose heart if you don’t see anything for a while – the meteors tend to come in spurts interspersed with lulls.
What if I can’t be bothered to go outside?
You can watch it online here .
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