Dust off your telescopes — Mother Nature is putting on an all-natural fireworks show just in time for Earth Day. Shooting stars will rain down tonight at a rate of 10 to 20 per hour, most heavily at midnight before picking again just before dawn.
For a little bit of background, the Lyrid meteor shower gets its firepower from the comet Thatcher, which circles the sun once every 415 years. However, the Earth intersects with Thatcher annually along its own orbit, and the comet's debris collides with our atmosphere at an astounding 100,00 miles per hour. The forceful impact quickly burns up the dust and detritus, producing plenty of shooting stars (and wishing opportunities).
As for the Lyrid name, meteor showers are called by whatever constellation they appear to come from, and nearby "Lyra" takes the shape of an ancient harp-like instrument, the lyre.
For optimal viewing, find the darkest spot in town and keep a watchful eye. Or, if the extra-bright moon is hurting your chances, check out a live feed on NASA TV or Slooh.
[h/t Mental Floss