As a lot of people should stay at home during these rough times, delighting your view with a beautiful celestial sight seems like a great idea. Thankfully, the night sky is huge and extremely rich in tiny luminous dots that are actually stars, planets, comets, or even whole galaxies.
The Lyrid meteor shower is delighting our view every year, and in 2020 it’s also back in business. The celestial show started last week, and will continue to do its job every night for around 10 days.
The peak comes this week
The Griffith Observatory informs us that the peak of the meteor shower is that amount of time when you’ll see the most meteors dancing on the night sky, and it will occur between late Tuesday and Wednesday morning.
We can see a maximum of about 18 meteors per hour on the night sky during the peak of Lyrid, if the sky is clear, and if there’s minimum pollution.
Robert Lunsford of the American Meteor Society:
Compared to other meteor showers, the Lyrids tend to produce bright meteors and an occasional fireball,
Comet C/1861 G (Thatcher) is the culprit
As the great chemist Antoine Lavoisier claimed long ago after discovering the law of conservation of mass: nothing is lost, nothing is created, and everything is transformed. A similar thing happened to the Lyrid meteors as they were once parts of the C/1861 G (Thatcher) comet. The Earth drifts through an amount of space debris left over from an earlier visit by the comet. The debris is colliding with our atmosphere at a staggering speed of about 27 miles (43 kilometers) per second.
We should consider ourselves very lucky to witness a meteor shower like the ongoing Lyrid. After all, we’re the only known intelligent and conscious beings that are able to observe such a magnificent cosmic event.