A dazzling annual meteor shower starts this week -- here's how to watch it

NASA screen shotThe Lyrid meteor shower, pictured in 2015.
  • The Lyrid meteor shower returns this week.
  • Head out on April 23, 2am in Western Australia, or 4 am AEST (QLD/NSW/ACT/Vic/Tas)to get your best glimpse.
  • It’s one of the oldest recorded meteor showers in human history.

The dazzling Lyrid meteor shower is starting this week.

The annual shower, which happens between April 16 and 25 each year, occurs when the Earth passes through the tail of a comet.

While meteor showers are difficult to accurately predict, you’ll probably get your best glimpse of it in the early morning hours of April 22 (if you’re in the northern hemisphere), when the waxing moon is least likely to interfere. That’s when the meteor shower is supposed to “peak,” with around 10-20 meteors per hour showing, according to EarthSky.

Head outside early Monday morning for the best view. The waxing moon should set before the meteors appear, making for perfect viewing – though meteor showers are notoriously fickle. You’ll want to go to an area with the least amount of light pollution and tall structures to obstruct your view.

Meteor showers can be viewed with the naked eye, and in fact, a telescope or binoculars may cause you to miss the shower as the meteors can appear all over the sky.

The Lyrids are debris from the comet Thatcher, named after A.E. Thatcher, an astronomer who identified the comet the last time it approached Earth in 1861. The comet, which takes 415 years to orbit the sun, isn’t expected back until 2276, according to EarthSky.

The Lyrid meteor shower is one of the oldest known meteor showers. Chinese astronomers compared the Lyrids to a “rainfall of stars” in the year 687 B.C.

Happy viewing!

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