See the Annual Lyrid Meteor Shower This Month
The annual Lyrid meteor shower is happening now and expected to peak April 22-23.
The Lyrids are active each year from about April 16 to 25. Earthsky.org says that meteor activity should pick up April 19th before peaking on Friday.
But patience is key with the Lyrids. They ‘usually’ only produce 10-15 meteors per hour at their peak.
The best time to watch is typically between midnight and dawn but a bright nearly full moon could cause a bit of a viewing dilemma. The moon won’t set until 4:18 AM on the peak night of 4/22.
If you trace the paths of all the Lyrid meteors backward, they seem to radiate from the constellation Lyra the Harp, near the star, Vega. These meteors burn up in the atmosphere about 60 miles up. On the peak night of 4/22, Vega will rise at 8:18 PM and should be fairly high in the sky by midnight.
View an interactive map of the Lyrids, HERE.
Earthsky says that the late evening hours might be the best time to catch an earthgrazer, which is a slow-moving and long-lasting meteor that travels horizontally across the sky.
But the Lyrids have been known to have outbursts. In 1922, 1945 and 1982, nearly 100 Lyrid meteors per hour were seen throughout different locations on the planet. No Lyrid outburst is predicted for 2021---- but you never know.
Comet Thatcher (C/1861 G1) is the source of the Lyrid meteors. Every year, in April, Earth crosses the path of this comet. Would you like to see a photo of this comet? I would, too. The last time it was near earth was in 1861. Its orbit around the sun is roughly 415 years. It isn’t expected to return until the year 2276.
The meteors from Comet Thatcher are streaking through the sky at 110,000 MPH and the comet is traveling 2.4 miles PER SECOND.
Remember, patience is key -- find an area outside of city lights and allow your eyes at least 20 minutes (or longer) to adjust to the darkness.