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Meteor shower to light up night sky
Giant meteors are not likely to strike earth and cause havoc this weekend when the annual Lyrid meteor shower is expected to light up the night sky. This assurance came from Dr Shirin Haque, senior physics lecturer at the University of the West Indies, St Augustine and a fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society.
“Statistically anything is possible but the probability is extremely low,” Dr Haque said. She said the night sky this weekend would provide an excellent opportunity to see the dusty trail of a past comet striking the upper atmosphere and burning up.
Dr Haque said the particles range from the size of a grain of sand to small rocks.
She said one week after a huge halo was spotted around the sun, the annual Lyrid meteor shower peaks today and tomorrow. Dr Haque said the meteor show can be seen as soon as it gets dark. She said Earth will be passing through the debris of Comet Thatcher causing the shower this year, as has been happening annually for over 2,500 years.
“As the moon will be in the new moon phase, the skies will be darker making it favourable for viewing meteors. “Typically 15 to 20 meteors can be seen per hour, although if we get lucky and Earth is passing through a particularly dense patch, it could yield a higher rate or even a fireball or two,” Dr Haque said.
The comet is considered the “parent” of the Lyrid meteors. A comet is an icy body that litters its orbit with debris. There are five meteor showers again for this year. The next shower, the Eta Aquarids, is scheduled to pass near Earth around May 5.
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