Lights Off, Blankets Out: Lyrid Meteor Shower Peaks Tonight

Meteor showers to be observed tomorrow

If you find yourself in the United States on the night of April 21, take some time to check out the Lyrid meteor shower that's going to be lighting up the sky. The moon will have nearly reached its "new moon" phase, creating a dark, moon-less night and the flawless viewing conditions for a meteor shower, JPL said.

Weather aside, viewing conditions are favorable this year because the waning crescent moon won't wash out the sky with light. "The actual new moon is on April 26".

The Lyrid meteor shower can be viewed from all over the world. The number of meteors one could see at any given time may vary, though there have been times in history when the shower had been especially active. It is named after the constellation Lyra.

Every year in April, the pieces of the comet Thatcher hit Earth's atmosphere at 109,600 miles per hour, vaporizing from friction caused by the air and leaving behind streaks of light called meteors.

While the meteor shower usually delivers around 20 meteors per hour on clear nights, there have been a few "outburst" years where observers have reported seeing up to 100 Lyrids per hour - so keep your eyes peeled, you never know what you might see tonight.

Stargzaers need no special equipment to witness this marvel of nature.

"You'll want to watch the sky for an hour or more, so comfort is key", said Astronomy magazine's Richard Talcott. NASA says the shower will be visible before dawn comes around - the darker the sky, the better.

Get out of the city so that artificial lights do not impede your viewing. "Lie down comfortably on a blanket or lawn chair, and look straight up", NASA advises.

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