With Spring weather finally (finally) arriving across much of the U.S., the prospect of hanging around outside, just looking up at the night sky, has once again become palatable. (Pleasant, even.) And just in time: the annual Lyrid meteor shower is taking place this week.
Tonight and tomorrow morning the meteor shower will hit its peak, with 10 to 20—though sometimes as many as 100—meteors per hour slamming into and burning up in the atmosphere.
Each April, says SpaceWeather.com, the Earth passes through the trail of debris cast off by Comet Thatcher. These “Flakes of comet dust, most no bigger than grains of sand, strike Earth's atmosphere traveling 49 km/s (110,000 mph) and disintegrate as streaks of light.”
If you want to have the best chance of spotting the shooting stars, says EarthSky, it helps to look towards the shower's radiant point, which appears to the northeast.
Though the peak of the shower is going to take place overnight, comets can be also be seen for the next few eves. So, if it's cloudy, you'll get another shot. The only downside to this year's Lyrid show, says EarthSky, is that the Moon is going to be pretty bright, which could make it harder to see the subtle light of the shooting stars.