From 16 to 25 April, Moscow residents will be able to see the first spring meteor shower, which is considered one of the most spectacular. The Lyrids will peak in the early hours of 23 April. In clear sky, the meteor shower can be observed even without any special optical equipment. Up to 20 "shooting stars" per hour are expected in the night sky. Their speed reaches 48 kilometres per second. Bright tails each meteor leaves behind are visible for a few seconds.
“The Lyrid meteors are white and fairly fast. They appear in the sky with bright flashes. Observers won’t need a telescope or binoculars,” the Moscow Planetarium’s press service stated.
The April Lyrids is an annual astronomical event. Every April, the Earth passes through the dusty tail of Comet Thatcher C/1861 G1. It is a long-period comet named after the amateur astronomer A.E. Thatcher who discovered it on 5 April 1861. It makes one revolution around the Sun in 415 years. In June 1861, the celestial body passed near the Sun, leaving behind a dusty tail. Now every spring, the Earth inhabitants notice bright flashes of light in the sky — a swarm of the comet dust particles strike the atmosphere at an altitude of 100–120 kilometres and a speed of about 48 kilometres per second, and burn.
The Lyrids are among the big three meteor showers along with the Perseids (August) and the Geminids (December). The name comes from the Lyra constellation, in which the steam radiant is located - a point in the sky, from where, as it seems to the observer, meteors fly. Lyra is a northern summer constellation. It can be seen all year round in middle latitudes of Russia.
This year, the Moscow Planetarium celebrates its anniversary. The oldest in Russia and one of the largest in the world, the planetarium will turn 90 on 5 November.