Meteor shower to light up the sky

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Chances are you’re getting pretty bored of your own house by now, but while you’ll be stuck there a little longer, you don’t need to leave in order to see one of the greatest shows on Earth.

The Lyrid meteor shower has been lighting up the night sky for the past few days, and is expected to hit its peak over the coming nights.

The annual show is named after the Lyra constellation and occurs when Earth’s orbit crosses with the orbit of the comet Thatcher.

The comet itself doesn’t come close to Earth.

It hasn’t even entered the inner solar system since 1861, and isn’t expected to again until 2276, thanks to its roughly 415 year orbit.

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A composite image of some meteors in the Lyrid shower over the US state of New Mexico in 2012. Picture: NASA
media_cameraA composite image of some meteors in the Lyrid shower over the US state of New Mexico in 2012. Picture: NASA

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Pieces of debris that have fallen off the comet intersect with the Earth’s orbit every year around April, according to astronomy site EarthSky.

The Lyrid shower is one of the oldest known regular meteor showers, with depictions dating back 2700 years.

You can expect to see around 10 to 15 meteors per hour if you have good viewing conditions.

The shower is expected to peak early on Wednesday morning.

Leaving your house to try and observe a meteor shower is unlikely to be considered essential travel, so it’s recommended that you don’t move to higher ground or out of the city in order to try and see the meteors.

But if you lie on the ground in your yard and give yourself time to adjust to the darkness, you could be able to see some of the meteors, depending on local light pollution from things like streetlights and signs.

Those in country areas have a better chance thanks to less light pollution and development blocking out views.

Originally published as Meteor shower to light up the sky