The Stunning Lyrid Meteor Shower Peaks Tonight. Here's How to Watch.
It's been a bit since we've had a good meteor shower on view in North America. But that's going to change this week. The Lyrid meteor shower will peak the night of April 22. If you've been waiting for an excuse to lay out in the grass at night...
It's been a bit since we've had a good meteor shower on view in North America. But that's going to change this week. The Lyrid meteor shower will peak the night of April 22. If you've been waiting for an excuse to lay out in the grass at night now that the weather is turning, your moment has arrived.
The Lyrid meteor shower will peak the night of April 22 into the morning of April 23, Bill Cooke of NASA's Meteoroid Environment Office tells Thrillist. (Though, some are reporting the night of April 21, which will be a good night to view it as well.) The full shower lasts from April 16 through April 25, but it will be at its most active during the peak. However, a waning gibbous moon (that's pretty close to full) is going to obstruct all but the shower's brightest meteors during this year's display.
The shower is capable of producing more than 100 meteors per hour in an outburst year, which are infrequent and difficult to predict, says Cooke. However, this year will sit somewhere around 20 per hour. Though, many of those will be washed out by the light of the moon.
How to Watch the Lyrid Meteor Shower
The best time to catch the shower will be just before dawn, when the constellation Lyra is at its highest point. That's generally around 4am local time. For the best experience, you'll need a little patience. Get out to your spot early, and give your eyes time to fully adjust to the darkness. (Don't sit and look at your phone.)
To see the meteors, you'll want to get out of the city, away from light pollution. You'll also want clear sightlines of the sky. If it's a cloudy night or you have an obstructed view, you'll have a tough time taking in what you're able to see in spite of the moon.
The meteors will appear to emanate from the constellation Lyra (the Harp). However, that doesn't mean you should stare straight at the constellation. The meteors will be moving away from it. Knowing where the constellation is can help, but you're also fine lying back with your feet facing east and looking up, taking in as much of the sky as possible.
The shower is created by the debris from Comet C/1861 G1 Thatcher, which orbits our sun once every 415.5 years. (It'll be a while until it returns. Its next slated to pass through our solar system in 2276.) The earth crashes through the debris it left behind and those bits burn up in the sky as the Lyrid meteor shower. Like every meteor shower, it's a beautiful series of dominoes that leads to the night when you can look up and enjoy the show.
Even though the Lyrids are a little tamer than most showers and the moon will be in the way, it's a great way to get outside and start to enjoying excellent star gazing weather headed our way.