What better way to ring in Earth Day this year than with a swarm of shooting stars?
The 2014 Lyrid meteor shower is expected to peak in the early morning on Tuesday, April 22, from midnight until dawn -- it will continue to be visible through April 25.
Who will have the best view? Skywatchers in the Northern Hemisphere will be treated to a better show than those in the Southern Hemisphere, according to NASA. And while this year's "last quarter moon" may make it harder to spot less bright meteors, don't worry -- the agency is scheduled to stream a live broadcast of the meteor shower tonight beginning at 8:30 pm EDT -- just check it out above.
"This is not one of the top meteor showers of the year like the Perseids and the Geminids, still the Lyrids produce around 20 meteors an hour, and they are moderately fast--coming in at 110,000 miles per hour," Slooh astronomer Bob Berman said in a webcast advisory, according to Space.com. "That's about 30 miles per second, which is nearly 60 times faster than a rifle bullet."
The Lyrids occur every year, and such meteor showers happen when Earth passes through the debris left behind by periodic comets, such as Comet Thatcher (C/1861 G1), as they orbit the sun.
The Lyrid meteor shower is considered to be one of the oldest meteor showers. Records show that Chinese astronomers observed the Lyrids in 687 BC, noting in the historical Chinese document "The Chronicle Of Zuo" that "at midnight, stars fell down like rain."
What should we expect to see in the sky during the early morning hours of Earth Day? Check out this 2012 video taken by an astronaut aboard the International Space Station: