Many stargazers love meteor showers, which light up the night sky and deliver a unique spectacle every time as no two showers are alike. The Lyrid meteor shower will take place this week, and its shaping up to be a great event according to recent data.
Most meteor showers will reach a peak activity of approximately 20 meteors per hour, but Lyrid surpasses this limit with ease. Tens of streaks will be visible on the sky, each lasting a few seconds as the meteors will burn in the atmosphere due to the powerful friction force that is encountered.
The Chinese were the first who mentioned the Lyrid meteor shower in historic recordings, with the oldest one being noted in 687BC. More than two millennia will pass until researchers will identify the C/1861 Thatcher comet, which releases the rocky fragments that form the shower.
A spectacular meteor shower
A meteor can be traced to a particular shower by observing its path to see if it comes from a key section in the sky, which is known as a radiant. The name of the meteor shower comes from the Lyra constellation, which houses the star, Vega.
Vega is the brightest star of the constellation and the fifth-brightest scar on the night-sky. Last year the Lyrid meteor shower was quite impressive as more than 60 meteors per hour could be observed, with a massive apex period when almost one hundred raced across the sky.
It is inferred that viewing conditions will be great as the moon is headed into the new-moon phase, which should be reached in less than a day after the peak activity level is achieved.
This is great news for people who live in areas where light pollution is relatively high as they will also have a chance to observe the meteor shower. No special equipment is needed, but a telescope may improve the view.