Lyrid meteor shower 2017: When will it peak and how to watch

In Science
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Want to see some shooting stars? The annual Lyrid meteor shower will provide a good opportunity for stargazers of all levels.

And this weekend will provide some of the best nights for viewing.

The Lyrid meteors are really pieces of debris from a comet named Thatcher (or Comet C/1861 G1).

The meteors shoot across our sky as the Earth moves through a stream of debris from the comet.

According to NASA’s  this year’s peak viewing nights will be April 22 and 23.

Stargazers could see up to 18 meteors per hour.

Want to see the Lyrids? Here are a few tips:

*No special equipment is needed, just a dark open view of the sky away from lights.

*It’s easiest to spot meteors if you’re lying down with your feet facing east and looking straight up, according to NASA.

*Unlike last year, the moon will not interfere with this year’s Lyrid meteor shower. The moon will be nearly to its new moon phase, according to NASA.

*You can tell you can tell if a meteor belongs to a specific meteor shower by tracing back its path to where it originated in the sky — the constellation nearest that point is called the radiant.

*According to NASA the meteors will radiate through what is called the “Summer Triangle,” which is made up of the stars Deneb in the constellation Cygnus, Altair in Aquila and Vega in Lyra.

*Vega, one of the brightest stars in the sky at this time of year, and Lyra can be found high in the eastern sky a few hours after midnight.

*However, astronomers caution not to look directly at the radiant to see the best meteors. According to NASA looking only at the radiant will make them appear shorter.

*The Lyrids have been observed for roughly 2,700 years. The first recorded sighting was in 687 BC by the Chinese, according to NASA.

*Lyrid meteors can sometimes leave glowing dust trails behind them that can be seen for several seconds.

Will the weather cooperate for skywatching? Here’s the sky cover forecast from the National Weather Service for 4 a.m. CDT Saturday:

The sky cover forecast for 4 a.m. Saturday shows who will have a tough time seeing meteors overnight. Areas in darker gray are expected to have the most cloud-filled skies. (National Weather Service)

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