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Lyrids

April’s (Meteor) Showers

by Jori Wuerth

 

It’s that time of the year again! Every year in April, the earth moves through the comet trail of C/1861 G1 Thatcher. This comet, sends dust and tiny bits of ice into the atmosphere, leaving a beautiful display of lights dancing across the sky.

The radiant for the Lyrids is near the bright star Vega in the constellation Lyra. This year, the peak viewing hours are expected to take place on Tuesday, April 23, before dawn. The Lyrid meteor shower, which started on April 16, will continue to appear in the sky through Thursday, April 25.

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.