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The Lyrid meteor shower reaches its peak. Here’s how to enjoy it with a bright moon

Vaseline 3 months ago

Stargazers can soon prepare for one of the oldest known meteor showers; they just need to find some darkness from a nearly full moon.

The Lyrids meteor shower will be active until April 29 and is expected to peak Sunday into Monday, according to the American Meteor Society. It is best seen in the Northern Hemisphere, the group says.

The views throughout the night will change as Lyra, the constellation from which the shower radiates and gets its name, moves across the sky. Lyra is high at dawn, so that’s a better time to look, the AMS says.

The nearly full moon this weekend will make it harder to see the meteor shower, but viewers can still spot some, and it always helps to make the sky you’re looking at as dark as possible. Astronomy website EarthSky advises avoiding city lights as you would for most stargazing, but also suggests finding a place where the moon can be hidden from view, such as in the shade of a mountain or under trees.

Meteor watchers should prepare to stay warm and sit back. NASA recommends lying with your feet facing east and giving your eyes 30 minutes to adjust to the darkness. Photography enthusiasts need a longer shutter speed, a higher ISO and the stability of a tripod to capture the shooting stars.

While we’re unlikely to see bright trains during the Lyrids’ journey through Earth’s atmosphere, we can watch out for bright flashes called fireballs, according to NASA.

Fireballs are brighter than the planet Venus. NASA has set up more than a dozen cameras around the country to capture them. The agency says the data helps them better understand objects floating in space near Earth and is important for spacecraft designers.

The first recorded sighting of the Lyrids came from the Chinese more than 2,700 years ago. Meteor showers occur when Earth passes through the trail of dust and debris that comets and asteroids leave behind as they pass around the sun. The Lyrids come from the trail of comet C/1861 G1 Thatcher, which was discovered in 1861 by amateur astronomer AE Thatcher.

While Earth passes in the comet’s trail every year, Comet Thatcher takes more than 400 years to orbit the Sun. The last time it reached its closest point to the sun was the year it was discovered.

The next meteor shower for Earth will be Eta Aquariids, which will be more visible from the southern tropics in early May, according to the AMS. The next thing people in North America will get a good look at will be the Alpha Capricornids in late July. The moon will then be darker.

Copyright 2024 NPR. For more information, visit https://www.npr.org.