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Stargazing 2017: Lyrid Meteor Shower, Asteroid Light Up the Sky This Week

Apr 18, 2017 10:02 AM EDT
Bright Leonid Fireball
The hours before dawn is the darkest point of the day, so getting up early will be rewarding during the first week of May.
(Photo : Nasa/Getty Images)

This week is set to be an exceptional one in the heavens with a meteor shower and a close encounter with a massive asteroid.

Lyrid Meteor Shower

The annual Lyrid meteor shower is a spectacular light show that runs from April 16 to 25. If you want the best chance to spot a dozen or so meteors, it's best to venture outside during the Lyrid meteor shower's peak between the night of April 22 and 23, according to a report from Bustle.

On this particular evening, there will be between 10 to 20 meteors streaking across the sky every hour in the Northern Hemisphere. The darkest part of the night is just before dawn, and this is the hour that will be most spectacular.

The best thing about the Lyrid meteor shower is there's no need for any special equipment to enjoy it. Clear skies, cooperative weather and a good spot with very little light pollution outshining the stars are enough to see the Lyrid meteor shower.

Sometimes meteor showers can be quite underwhelming, but Lyrid often provides an entertaining show. It is also known as the oldest reported shower in the history books, people catching a glimpse of it as far back as 687 BC.

Asteroid 2014 JO25

Aside from the week-long barrage of meteors, an asteroid named 2014 JO25 will also be passing by Earth on Wednesday, April 19, according to a report from It's expected to be a close encounter with the giant space rock -- nicknamed "The Rock" -- approaching as close as 1.1 million miles from the planet.

While smaller asteroids often come this close to Earth, it's very rare that one as massive as The Rock gets within this distance. Asteroid 2014 JO25 is about 2,000 feet across, roughly the same height as China's Shanghai Tower that's known to be the second tallest building in the world.

According to Astronomy Now, the asteroid will be closest to Earth at 12:24 UT on April 19. It's expected to be bright enough to see with just the use of a 4-inch telescope and larger.

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