Lyrid meteor shower to light up skies with up to 15 meteors an hour this week

·Contributor
·2-min read
The Milky Way and Lyrid meteors falling through the sky at the Bathing House in Northumberland (Getty)
The Milky Way and Lyrid meteors falling through the sky at the Bathing House in Northumberland (Getty)

Make sure to watch the skies this week as the annual Lyrid meteor shower lights up the skies above Britain.

Up to 10 or 15 meteors an hour will streak across the sky, with the best time to watch coming before moonrise.

The Lyrids should be clearly visible with the shower beginning on 14 April 2022 and continuing until 30 April.

Holly Spanner of BBC Science Focus says: “By the time the Lyrids reach their peak on the night of 22/23 April, the Moon will be in the third quarter but crucially, it doesn't rise until 3:26am.

“Before moonrise, look up at an angle of around 60° and you should be able to catch a glimpse of a meteor or two.”

Read more: Lyrid meteor shower captured in time-lapse

A Lyrid meteor passes over the Lovell telescope at Jodrell Bank in Macclesfield. (PA)
A Lyrid meteor passes over the Lovell telescope at Jodrell Bank in Macclesfield. (PA)

The Met Office has said: "Known for their fast, bright meteors, the Lyrids are one of the oldest known meteor showers."

"The Lyrid meteor shower is named as such because it appears to radiate from the constellation Lyra, though it is better to view the Lyrids away from this constellation so they appear longer and more impressive."

The annual display is caused by the Earth passing through a cloud of debris from a comet called C/186 Thatcher.

Chinese astronomers wrote about the Lyrids in 687BC, writing ‘at midnight, stars fell like rain’.

There’s no need to take binoculars or a telescope with you, just find a suitably dark area and hope there’s not too much cloud.

Read more: Huge meteor explodes in the sky above Derby

Multiple exposures shot of London during the Lyrid shower. (PA)
Multiple exposures shot of London during the Lyrid shower. (PA)

Read more: Scientists warn dangerous space rocks could be hiding in meteor shower

You don’t need to go anywhere special to see it from the UK - just go outside and give your eyes half an hour to get used to the dark.

To see it look for the Big Dipper or The Plough (they’re the same thing, but actually they’re the back end of the Great Bear constellation).

Astronomy site Earthsky says, “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 tantalising Lyrids are worth checking out.”

In the book ‘Observe Meteors’, authors David Levy and Stephen Edberg write, "... of the annual meteor showers, this is the first one that really commands attention, one for which you can organise a shower observing party with significant chance of success."

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