Lyrid meteor shower 2020 will light up the sky amid COVID-19 pandemic

The Lyrid is the oldest known meteor shower which dates back to 2700 years ago. The world’s best night sky show will peak tonight.

With governments imposing lockdowns all over the world, chances are people are getting really bored inside their homes. However, being stuck there for a little longer means getting the chance to witness the best light show on the planet.

The Lyrid meteor shower has started a few days ago and is expected to reach its peak in the coming nights. The shower comes after months of meteor absence from January to March.

By April, stargazers and meteor hunters are itching to watch the Lyrids which offer 10 to 15 falling stars per hour during the peak season.

Where does it come from

Meteor showers are the icy leftovers of a comet that passed the Earth’s atmosphere. Comets are like dirty snowballs. As they travel inside the solar system, they leave trails of rock and dust which stay in space long after they leave. When the planet passes through these chunks of debris, it pierces the night sky at spectacular speeds which creates a celestial light show.

The Lyrids are composed of dust and rocks which are the remnants of comet C/1861 G which passes the earth every 400 years. Each year around mid-April, the planet enters the cloud of debris left by this comet which produces the meteor shower.

How to watch

Experts suggest that the best way to watch a meteor shower is to go to a place which has a clear view of the night sky. This means watchers should be away from the city lights and look for a spot that offers an unobstructed view of the night sky.

To maximize the chances of catching the meteor show, trace the paths of the meteors backward which will lead to the constellation of Lyra the Harp, located near the star Vega. This area is called the meteor shower’s radiant point. Yes, the Lyrid meteor shower got its name from this constellation.

It is best to use the naked eye to watch the meteor shower. Using telescopes or binoculars will only limit the viewer’s field of view. Usually, viewers will need to spend at least half an hour to let the eyes get used to the dark sky.

Experts warn viewers that the moon’s light and other weather conditions can affect the night show. If this ever happens, the meteor show is streamed live on the NASA website.

Featured image courtesy of Fox News/Video Screenshot and EarthSky/Screenshot

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