ONE OF THE most striking meteor showers in recent times will be visible over Ireland this weekend, as Earth moves into a cloud of celestial dust left behind by a comet.
This weekend will see the planet move into debris left by the trail of Comet Thatcher, some of which will enter into Earth’s atmosphere and begin to burn up – causing a meteor shower overhead.
Astronomy Ireland says the shower is already visible, but will be clearest on Saturday night through Sunday morning – and that at their brightest peak, meteors may be seen every three minutes – that is, up to 20 times per hour.
This estimate could prove to be a conservative one, however: the meteor shower in question, known as the Lyrids, has been known to glow quite brightly, and sometimes experience a major outburst where meteors can been seen every 20 seconds.
This weekend should also provide an optimal time to see the Lyrids, as there will be no moon to cause a glare. Astronomy Ireland says there will also be no need to use a telescope or binoculars – as the meteors are bright enough to see with the naked eye.
“The Moon will be out of the way so it is definitely worth going outside to try to see some Lyrids for what has proved to be a stunning meteor shower throughout the years and decades,” Astronomy Ireland’s David Moore said.
“Sometimes large pieces of debris enter the atmosphere and flare up extremely brightly as fireballs – these can often land on the ground!
Astronomy Ireland has asked any interested parties to assist in compiling a Nationwide Lyrid Watch, with details of how to participate available on its website.