Lyrid Meteor Shower Is Here

But at its peak, so is a nearly full moon
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Apr 18, 2024 12:31 PM CDT
Lyrid Meteor Shower Is Here
The Lyrid meteor shower is seen from the Baltic Sea island of Fehmarn, Germany, on April 20, 2018. The Lyrids occur every year in April.   (Daniel Reinhardt/dpa via AP, File)

The Lyrid meteor shower is underway. But with a nearly full moon in the sky during the peak, it might be tough to see clearly. The Lyrids occur every year in mid- to late April. This year's peak activity happens Sunday into Monday, with 10 to 20 meteors expected per hour. Viewing lasts through April 29. Here's what to know about the Lyrids and other meteor showers, per the AP:

  • What are they? Most meteor showers originate from the debris of comets, and the Lyrids' source is the comet Thatcher. When rocks from space enter Earth's atmosphere, the resistance from the air makes them very hot. This causes the air to glow around them and briefly leaves a fiery tail behind them—the end of a "shooting star." The glowing pockets of air around fast-moving space rocks, ranging from the size of a dust particle to a boulder, may be visible in the night sky.

  • How to view: Meteor showers are usually most visible between midnight and the predawn hours, easiest seen under dark skies with limited city lights and moonlight, and don't require special equipment. "Look to the northeast and just keep staring at the same spot in the sky" to see the Lyrids, says University of Warwick astronomer Don Pollacco. "It's always impressive when you see these things."
  • How to view, II: The show's peak Sunday night into Monday runs into a moon that's 96% illuminated, according to the American Meteor Society. Under ideal conditions, "the meteors often appear very bright with bluish trails, and often the trails seem to hang around for a few seconds in the sky," says Pollacco.
  • What's on deck? The meteor society keeps an updated list of upcoming large meteor showers, including peak viewing days and moonlight conditions.
(More Lyrid meteors stories.)

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