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PAGASA: Lyrids meteor shower to provide treat for stargazers this week

Stargazers can look forward to seeing the Lyrids Meteor Shower and several planets this week, state astronomers said. The Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) said the Lyrids Meteor Shower, while "weak" in past years, will peak on April 21 to 22. "The shower’s peak this year will be in progress on April 21 to predawn of April 22. Although not numerous, Lyrids are bright and fast meteors," PAGASA OIC administrator Vicente Malano said in PAGASA's April astronomical diary. He added the shower "typically generates a dozen meteors per hour under optimal conditions with a brief maximum that lasts for less than a day." Malano noted the Lyrids meteor shower had been observed for more than 2,600 years. He cited Chinese records showing the "stars fell like rain" during the meteor shower of 687 B.C. But he said that in recent years, the Lyrids have generally been "weak." Stars, constellations Malano said the seven stars that make up the Big Dipper, one of the most familiar patterns in the sky, can be seen in the northern hemisphere at 8 p.m. "The curved handle of the Big Dipper is pointing towards a bright orange star Arcturus of the constellation Bootes, the Herdsman. Due south will be another bright star Spica, the prominent star of the constellation Virgo, the Virgin," he said. Also, he said M44, known as the Beehive Cluster of the constellation Cancer, spans more than a degree of the sky. It is an Open Type cluster of stars in which ten of its stars shine between magnitude +6.3 to +6.9. M44 is a good target for an observer using a binocular with the aid of a star map under clear night sky. Planets Venus is visible in the evening sky throughout April, shining brilliantly at magnitude -4.5 and making a spectacular view with the open cluster of stars known as Pleaides (the Rosary or sometimes locally called "Supot ni Hudas"). Jupiter can be seen directly below Venus in the twilight sky, gradually sinking on the western horizon as days pass as it comes closer to the Sun as viewed from the Earth. Jupiter will be finally lost in the evening sky during the last week of the month. Mercury will be located low in the eastern horizon before sunrise during the month. It will be glowing at magnitude +0.7 and will reach its greatest elongation on the 18th of the month. Neptune will be visible before sunrise throughout the month on the eastern horizon. It will be located among the background stars of the constellation Aquarius. Uranus comes into view half an hour before sunrise starting from the second week and will slowly climbs higher from the eastern sky as days pass by. It will lie among the background stars of the constellation Pisces. "Uranus and Neptune can be observed with the aid of a modest-sized telescopes and binoculars under clear skies condition with the aid of a star map," Malano said. — LBG, GMA News