Meteor Shower: When And Where To Watch Livestream Of Spectacular Lyrid Fireball Show

By Philip Ross on April 23, 2013 11:39 AM EDT

meteor shower
Missed the action? Catch the Lyrid meteor shower on NASA’s livestream. (Photo: Creative Commons/Brocken Inagl)

A meteor shower is at its peak this week, and the fireball show is heating up.

The Lyrid meteor shower is an annual meteor shower that occurs every year around April 21, when Earth passes through a curtain of dusty material left over from Comet Thatcher (a comet discovered in 1861 that orbits the sun every 415 years).

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While the best time to view the Lyrid meteor shower was early this morning, Scientists at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC) in Huntsville, Ala., will livestream the celestial show online tonight at 8:30 p.m. EDT.

You can watch the livestream of the meteor shower here.

What Exactly Is A Meteor Shower?

According to the International Meteor Organization, or IMO, a meteor is the light produced when a solid particle from space enters Earth's atmosphere and is incinerated. These pieces of space debris, which can be as small as a grain of sand, enter Earth's atmosphere at speeds up to 110,000 mph, Space.com reports. The particles are heated up to more than 3,000 degrees Fahrenheit, vaporizing the meteors and creating what are known as shooting stars.

A meteor shower occurs when a number of meteors enter Earth's atmosphere in tandem and with about the same trajectory, and explode in the atmosphere, creating a dazzling display of shooting stars. These explosions occur about 60 miles above surface of the Earth.

A meteor large enough to make it through Earth's atmosphere and reach its surface is called a meteorite.

Meteor Shower Itinerary

If you'd like to witness a meteor shower for yourself, there are plenty on the agenda this year. The Eta Aquarids, a yearly meteor shower that occurs when Earth passes through the dust cloud of Halley's Comet, is coming up the nights of May 4 and 5. According to NASA, the best way to view this fireball show is to get away from city and street lights. Lie flat on your back, and give it about 30 minutes to allow your eyes to adjust to the dark.

Under ideal conditions, Eta Aquarids has a meteor rate of about 40 to 60 meteors per hour.

Also coming up is the Perseids meteor shower in August, which has been witnessed for at least 2,000 years and is considered one of the best celestial shows to watch.

Read more from iScience Times:

Florida Fireballs; Watch The Meteor Shower That Panicked Locals [VIDEO]

Meteor Fragments From Ural, Russia, Retrieved; What Did Scientists Find?

Asteroid Passes By; Near-Miss Raises Concerns As Russia Meteor Explodes

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