Lyrids meteor shower 2020: Time travel with Lyrids, says NASA

The Lyrids Meteor Shower, caused by the falling debris from the comet C/1861 G1 Thatcher, occurs annually in mid-April as Earth travels through the trail of dust and tiny rocks left by the travelling comet. The comet is believed to be a remnant of the solar system, so observing the shooting stars will be looking at ancient history.

NASA also revealed the meteor shower is the oldest of all the meteor showers to have been observed by humans, with the first sightings dating back 2,700 years.

As a result, NASA described the meteor shower as an opportunity to “time travel with the stars”.

The space agency said in a statement: “The Lyrids are pieces of space debris that originate from the comet C/1861 G1 Thatcher.

“They are one of the oldest known meteor showers, having been observed for over 2,700 years. Their radiant, or point in the sky from which they appear and where they get their name, is in the constellation Lyra.

“The Lyrids appear to come from the vicinity of one of the brightest stars in the night sky – Vega.

“Vega is one of the easiest stars to spot, even in light-polluted areas.”

This year, the meteor shower will peak on April 21 to 23, giving stargazers in the UK a chance to step outside from their lockdown to view the phenomenon from their gardens.

Lyrids is described as one of the most significant meteor showers, with shooting stars expected to occur up to 20 times an hour.

The Royal Observatory Greenwich said: “The best time to see the shower is in the early morning of the peak day, which this year is the morning of the 22 April (the night of the 21 April).

“Wait until after midnight when the radiant point, in the constellation of Lyra, will have risen in the East.

“The later in the morning you wait, the higher the radiant will rise and the fewer meteors will be hidden below the horizon. But the closer you get to sunrise the brighter the sky is going to become so plan accordingly!

“Then simply fill your view with the sky and wait. Lying on the ground is a great way to see as much as possible – blanket optional but highly recommended. Reclining deckchairs make an even more comfortable way to view the sky.

“Also, even though summer is rapidly approaching, remember to wrap up warm!”

Thankfully, clear skies are expected for tonight at least, giving stargazers the perfect opportunity to catch a glimpse of the meteor shower.

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