The Lyrid meteor shower has been dazzling eyes since 687 BCE, when Chinese stargazers first observed it, making it the earliest recorded sightings of a meteor shower. More than 2,700 years later, you can still appreciate this celestial light show.
The annual shower will peak in activity this Friday, and will fully end on Monday, April 25. The best time to view it is in the hours before dawn. The stars' radiant point, where they are most heavily concentrated, will be near the star Vega, but you should be able to see them in most areas of the sky without any fancy equipment.
The meteors themselves come from particles of cosmic dust sprinkled off a comet called Comet C/1861 Thatcher during its 415-year orbit around the Sun. When these specks of dust hit Earth’s atmosphere, they burn up and create that distinctive blazing trail.
Unfortunately, this year won’t be a good year to view the shower, as it coincides with April's full Moon, so the moonlight will be particularly bright, Bill Cooke from NASA’s Meteoroid Environment Office told the New York Times. Usually, you would be able to spot 15 to 20 every hour. However, if you stay patient, you still should be able to catch a couple every hour.
Slooh will also be broadcasting a live feed from their observatory at the Institute of Astrophysics of the Canary Islands on Friday, April 22, 2016, at 8 p.m. EDT (1 a.m. BST the following morning).
You can watch it in the live stream below.
Main image credit: theilr/Flickr. (CC BY-SA 2.0)