Space Events

Lyrid meteor shower 2017

From now until 25 April, stargazers who observe the night sky may be able to get a good view of the Lyrid meteor shower. The best time to spot the dusty comet trail however will be on April 22, just before dawn.

The Lyrid meteor shower is among the oldest to have been recorded. Lyrids have been observed for more than 2,600 years. They are pieces of debris from the periodic Comet C/1861 G1 Thatcher which can be seen from Earth each year from mid-April, as the planet runs into the stream of debris from the comet.

Comet Thatcher orbits the sun about once every 415 years. Its most recent closest approach to the sun was in 1861 and it won’t be back until 2276.

A typical Lyrid meteor shower produces 15 to 20 meteors per hour but in some years, the shower intensifies. Up to 100 meteors an hour can then be seen. This is called an “outburst” and astronomers usually struggle to predict when they occur.

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