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April’s shooting stars!

A shot of the 2012 Lyrid meteor shower as it peaked in the skies over Earth.

The Lyrid meteor shower will dazzle the skies this weekend. This meteor shower—one of the oldest meteor showers known to man—occurs every April when the Earth crosses the orbital path of the Comet Thatcher. Tiny bits of ice and dust from this comet hit the Earth’s atmosphere, causing a streak of light across the sky—a meteor!

The Lyrids are known for uncommon surges that can sometimes bring the rate up to 100 per hour. Those rare outbursts are not easy to predict, but they’re one of the reasons the tantalizing Lyrids are worth checking out.

The radiant for this shower is near the bright star Vega in the constellation Lyra, which rises in the northeast at about 10 p.m. on April evenings. This year, the peak viewing hours are expected to take place on April 22 before dawn, at which time the moon will be out of the sky. The Lyrid meteor shower, which started on Monday, will continue to appear in the sky until April 25.

Find a spot where the sky appears clear—without light pollution or large buildings—and enjoy the Lyrid meteor shower!

 

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