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Lyrid Meteor shower to light up British skies with up to 18 fireballs per hour


The Lyrid meteor shower will be visible all day on Thursday, with astronomers predicting a peak at around 1pm. Tania de Sales Marques, an astronomer at the Royal Observatory Greenwich, told the PA news agency: “Since the peak occurs during the day the best time to try to spot the shower will be before sunrise on the 22nd or after sunset.

“It is expected that this meteor shower will produce around 18 meteors per hour.”

Ms de Sales Marques added that because the Moon will be at a waxing gibbous phase, there will be quite bright in the sky meaning conditions “won’t be very favourable”.

The Lyrid meteors are named after the constellation of Lyra the Harp, where the shooting stars appear to have originated.

Meteors are created when space rocks or debris burn up entering Earth’s atmosphere, creating long streaks of light.

These meteors are pieces of debris falling from the Thatcher Comet, which is expected to return to the inner solar system in 2276, after an orbital period of 415 years.

Ms de Sales Marques said: “The Lyrids have been observed as far back as 687BC, the oldest known record of any meteor showers still visible today.

“It is a moderate shower with the occasional fireballs, nicknamed the Lyrid Fireballs.”

Stargazers wishing to see the meteor shower will also be able to spot Vega, which is Lyra’s brightest star.

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“As with any stargazing, you’ll need to allow at least 15 minutes for your eyes to adjust to the dark.”

The Lyrids occur between 16-25 April every year.


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