The Lyrid meteor shower is all set to kick off the spring and summer meteor shower season this year. The 2018 Lyrid meteor shower will be active starting April 16. It will be visible until April 25 with the peak of the shower expected to fall on the night of Sunday, April 22 that will continue into the early hours of Monday, April 23.
During peak activity, the Lyrids will produce around 15 and 20 meteors an hour, which makes it a medium-brightness shower.
First observed around 2,700 years ago in 687 BC, the Lyrid meteor shower is notably the oldest known meteor shower ever recorded. The meteors observed during the meteor shower are said to be leftover debris from the comet G1 Thatcher. The comet was first observed by astronomer A.E. Thatcher on April 5, 1861, over New York. He named the comet as ‘G1 Thatcher’.
Notably, the Lyrid meteor showers occur when the Earth crosses the path of the comet G1 Thatcher and collide with the trail of comet debris. It is when that dust and debris collides with the Earth’s atmosphere that it heats up and glows momentarily and leaves bright streaks called shooting stars. This meteor shower originates from the constellation Lyra to the northeast of Vega, which is one of the brightest stars visible in the night sky this time of year.
NASA meteor expert Bill Cooke told Space.com that this year the moon will luckily not interfere with the 2018 Lyrid meteor shower. This means stargazers will be easily able to witness the cosmic phenomenon clearly this year. The best time to look for the falling stars is after midnight when the sky will be at its darkest and the shooting stars will be appearing at their brightest.
The Lyrids will be followed by the Eta Aquarid meteor shower that will begin on April 19 and last until May 28.