Tue, 21 Apr 2020
STARGAZERS will be gearing up for the peak extravaganza of the Lyrid meteor shower tonight.
The best time to watch is between about 10pm and dawn and, with the skies clear of air traffic at the moment and a cloud-free sky, it should be quite a spectacular show. You don't need to look in any particular direction. Make yourself comforable, wrap up warm and keep your gaze fixed on the sky.
Meteors are small chucks of debris left in the wake of celestial objects, like asteroids or comets - in this case comet Thatcher, which last came close to the sun in 1861.
When the Earth passes through this trail of material, it scoops up a number of these pieces which fall into the atmosphere.
There are expected to be around 20 meteors per hour and the Moon will be a thin crescent tonight, so well worth a look.
If you can't stay up that late then you should catch another pass of the Starlink satellites at 9pm, with a second fainter pass at about 10.20pm.
The Starlink satellites are the brainchild of business tycoon Elon Musk, who owns US company SpaceX and who intends to eventually have 12,000 of them in the sky. They are intended to provide satellite internet access.
And if you're interested in the satellites they intend to launch another 60 tomorrow, which means depending on the timing of the launch you could see what looks like a string of pearls flying across the sky a day or so after.
Happy sky gazing and if you get any good photographs email them to firstname.lastname@example.org for our online gallery.