The planet is celebrating Earth Day with a meteor shower that will peak on April 22. In fact, it seems like there's been a week-long Earth Day celebration. On Tuesday, April 16, thousands of people living on the East Coast saw what looked like a bright green meteor throttle itself across the sky and explode.
Some even thought it was the beginning of the end of the world. Astronomer Kevin Conod, who works at the Newark Museum Dreyfuss Planetarium in New Jersey, states that what we actually saw was a piece of rock from an astroid. Was it related to the Lyrid meteor shower? Probably not, but still really rad nonetheless.
I swear I just saw a meteor fall in DC...— Michelle Babin (@meeshbabs21) April 17, 2019
The Lyrid Meteor shower happens every April.
The Lyrid Meteor shower is something that happens every April. The shower starts around the 16th and peaks 5-7 days later. According to Earth Sky, the meteors will be most visible "from late evening April 22 until dawn April 23."
The best time to witness the shower is sometime before dawn (between 12 a.m. and 5 a.m.), so be sure to set your alarm (or pull an all-nighter). Earth Sky says this is the perfect time because "that's when the radiant point — near the star Vega in the constellation Lyra — climbs highest up in the sky, and when you're likely to see the most meteors." Stargazers will be able to see 10-20 meteors an hour during peak shower time.
Where do you have to be to watch the meteor shower?
f you live in the South and Southwest, you should be able to see the meteors quite clearly. However, if you live in the central, midwestern, and northeaster part of the U.S., the light show might be blanketed by clouds, according to Accuweather. Additionally, the full moon will make it harder for dimmer meteors to be visible to us.
What's the best way to watch it?
Luckily, you don't need special equipment (like a telescope) to see the shower, but you should try to find a dark, peaceful spot.
NASA says to "Get to a dark spot, get comfortable, bring extra blankets to stay warm, and let your eyes adjust to the dark sky. A cozy lounge chair makes for a great seat, as does simply lying on your back on a blanket, eyes scanning the whole sky."
Just don't look at the moon. AccuWeather Astronomy writer Dave Samuhel says, "Do not look at the moon. Do anything to avoid looking at the moon and focus on a different part of the sky." Just keep focusing on the dark spots in the sky as far from the moon as possible, and it'll be more likely you'll see meteors.
The Lyrid meteor shower goes way back.
The Lyrids, according to AccuWeather, can be traced back to comet C/1861 G1 Thatcher. Meteors come from comets leaving debris behind after making orbits around the sun. We're able to see meteor showers on Earth whenever our planet goes through this comet debris. The Lyrid meteor shower itself is one of the longest-running in all of time.
According to EarthSky, it "has the distinction of being among the oldest of known meteor showers. Records of this shower go back for some 2,700 years. The ancient Chinese are said to have observed the Lyrid meteors falling like rain in the year 687 B.C.
Busy next week?
You'll have another chance to catch cool stuff happening in the sky. The Eta Aquarids are set to hit peak shower on May 6 and early May 7. Thirty meteors an hour are expected to be seen by those living in Northern Hemisphere, and around 60 meteors an hour for people who live in the Southern Hemisphere.
So, start prepping your lounge chair, blankets, and hot chocolate (maybe spiked with an espresso shot or two), because 'tis the season of meteor showers.