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Lyrid meteor shower to peak over the weekend

April 20 (UPI) — The second major meteor shower of 2018 is set to peak this weekend. The Lyrids will deliver roughly 20 streaking meteors per hour during its peak.

Saturday night will offer sky-watchers the best chance to take in the shooting stars, but Friday and Sunday nights will host a handful of meteors, too.

“The shower will be best viewed after midnight when the radiant is highest in the sky,” according to Dave Samuhel, an astronomy blogger for AccuWeather.

The shower is named for the Lyra constellation, from which the shooting stars appear to originate in the sky. Streaking meteors will appear across much of the sky, however.

After the moon sinks behind the horizon, Sunday’s early morning hours will offer the best viewing conditions.

The Lyrid meteor shower is caused by the intersection between Earth’s orbit and the trail of debris following the orbit of Comet Thatcher. As Earth passes through the river of rocky fragments left behind by the comet, some of the debris burns up in its atmosphere.

Chinese records suggest humans have been watching the Lyrids for at least 2,600 years.

According to Space.com, the Lyrids have a history of surprising backyard astronomers. In 1922, the meteor shower featured 96 meteors per hour, and, in 1982, an average of 80 shooting stars streaked across the sky every hour during its peak.

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