Keep An Eye to the Sky: Annual Lyrid Meteor Shower Peaks This Weekend

Late Sunday night and early Monday morning, you may catch the annual Lyrid meteor shower

A meteor from the Lyrids
A meteor from the Lyrids burns up in the Earth’s atmosphere, as seen from the International Space Station. NASA/JSC/Don Pettit

Though a nearly-full Moon will brighten the dark sky, making conditions less than ideal, this weekend will see the peak of the annual Lyrid meteor shower, a dazzling display of comet dust burning up in the Earth’s atmosphere. Normally, the Lyrids will treat you to a couple dozen meteors an hour. A bright Moon will make the faint trails harder to pick out from the dark backdrop of space. EarthSky provides some detail:

The Lyrid meteor shower is expected to be active from April 16 to April 25, with an expected peak day of April 22. Unfortunately, this year there will be a waxing-gibbous moon (should be around 80% iluminated the night of the peak) which means there would only be a little more than an hour before sunrise with completely dark skies, and adding insult to injury, this would happen on the early hours of Monday, April 22.

If you can stay up late into Monday morning, between around 4 am when the Moon sets, and 5 am when the Sun comes up, you may catch quite a show, says EarthSky:

The Lyrids are known for uncommon surges that can sometimes bring the rate up to 100 per hour. Those rare outbursts are not easy to predict, but they’re one of the reasons the tantalizing Lyrids are worth checking out.

The western U.S., says Universe Today, has the best seats for this year’s Lyrids. If you’re an early riser, or a particularly devoted meteor watcher, you’d do well to look to the northeast. The meteors will stream from the constellation Lyra.

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