Saturday, April 18, 2015

Lyrid Meteor Shower Peaks After Earth Day

CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida -- Did you see a meteor tonight?  April is known for its rain showers, but it is also known for its spectacular meteor shower too.  That's because the Lyrid meteor shower annually appears from April 16 through April 26.  While many people will be focused terrestrially on April 22, 2015 for Earth Day, night sky watchers will focus up to the heavens early the following morning to watch the Lyrid meteor shower peak on April 23, 2015.

Lyrids are pieces of debris from the periodic Comet C/1861 G1 Thatcher that have been observed for more than 2,600 years.  In mid-April of each year, Earth runs into the stream of cosmic debris from the comet which causes the Lyrid meteor shower. 

When to watch the 2015 Lyrid Meteor Shower

Lyrids are best seen from 3 a.m. your local time until sunrise.  In 2015, the Moon will have set every night before that viewing time frame. These dark moonless skies will provide excellent conditions for viewing the Lyrid meteor shower.

Where to watch the Lyrid Meteor Shower

The Lyrid meteor shower will be viewable all over the world, with best rates seen just before dawn at the location where you're watching the skies.  The number of Lyrids are very unpredictable, with peak meteor rates between 10-100 per hour.   Cloudless skies and far away from city lights are ideal for watching meteor showers.

Where to look for watch the Lyrid Meteor Shower

Lyrids will be seen in the north-northwest night sky in the early morning hours.  You can tell if a meteor belongs to a particular shower by tracing back its path to see if it originates near a specific point in the sky, called the radiant. The constellation in which the radiant is located gives the shower its name, and in this case, Lyrids appear to come from a point in the constellation Lyra.