The annual Lyrid meteor shower peaks tonight, and you can watch it live, right here.
The astronomy website Slooh.com will live stream a view of the night sky from its telescopes on the Canary Islands beginning at 5 p.m. PDT. The show will also include some images of comets as a reminder of where our meteor showers come from in the first place.
Nearly all the annual meteor showers occur when the Earth moves through a stream of dust and debris left in the wake of a comet. The parent comet of tonight's meteor shower is known as Thatcher. As our planet passes through this collection of comet detritus small bits will slam into our atmosphere at about 110,000 mph, creating streaks of light that shoot across the night sky.
If you have access to a dark sky you can expect to see between 15 to 20 meteors per hour. That's cool, but admittedly not quite as thrilling as watching the Perseid meteor shower in August when sky watchers usually see between 60 and 120 meteors per hour.
But there are still a few reasons to tune in. For one, the moon will be shining with just 1/15th the brightness of a full moon tonight making it easier to see the meteors that do appear. Also, the Lyrids are known for leaving dust trains behind them as they streak across the sky. These luminous trains can be visible for several seconds.
If you plan to see the Lyrids in real life, the usual rules for meteor shower watching apply. Get yourself to the darkest sky you can find, give your eyes at least 20 minutes to adjust to the light, and then lie back and make yourself comfortable.
Happy sky watching!
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