Lyrids meteor shower 2020: NASA cameras capture stunning fireballs

The Lyrids meteor shower has passed its peak, and the amount of shooting stars will begin to fade out. However, there has been up to 20 fireballs an hour over the past two nights, providing the perfect spectacle to professional and amateur astronomers alike.

Videos from NASA reveal bright fireball falling to Earth as our planet’s orbit passes through the debris of Comet Thatcher (officially known as C/1861 G1 Thatcher).

Up to 17 different sky-watching cameras dotted across the US captured the shooting stars, which is one of the oldest meteor showers to be observed.

The comet is believed to be a remnant of the solar system, so observing the shooting stars will be looking at ancient history.

As a result, NASA described the meteor shower as an opportunity to “time travel with the stars”.

The space agency said in a statement: “The Lyrids are pieces of space debris that originate from the comet C/1861 G1 Thatcher.

“They are one of the oldest known meteor showers, having been observed for over 2,700 years. Their radiant, or point in the sky from which they appear and where they get their name, is in the constellation Lyra.

“The Lyrids appear to come from the vicinity of one of the brightest stars in the night sky – Vega.

“Vega is one of the easiest stars to spot, even in light-polluted areas.”

The Lyrids will still be visible tonight, but will be more infrequent.

Thankfully, clear skies are expected for tonight at least, giving stargazers the perfect opportunity to catch a glimpse of the meteor shower.

The Royal Observatory Greenwich said: “Wait until after midnight when the radiant point, in the constellation of Lyra, will have risen in the East.

“The later in the morning you wait, the higher the radiant will rise and the fewer meteors will be hidden below the horizon. But the closer you get to sunrise the brighter the sky is going to become so plan accordingly!

“Then simply fill your view with the sky and wait. Lying on the ground is a great way to see as much as possible – blanket optional but highly recommended. Reclining deckchairs make an even more comfortable way to view the sky.

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Asteroids and meteors produce a bright explosion of fire when they hit the atmosphere as it is the first time the space rock has ever met resistance.

Air seeps into the pores and cracks of the rock, pushing it apart and causing it to explode.

The International Meteor Organization said: “Fireballs are meteors that appear brighter than normal.

“Due to the velocity at which they strike the Earth’s atmosphere, fragments larger than one millimetre have the capability to produce a bright flash as they streak through the heavens above.

“These bright meteors are what we call fireballs and they often strike fear and awe for those who witness them.”

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