Friday, April 15, 2016

Lyrid Meteor Shower In April 2016: How to Watch Tonight

Lyrid Meteor

CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida -- The Lyrid meteor shower annually appears from April 16 through April 26.  So it's possible to spot Lyrids every night from tonight through the next ten nights.

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 and the resulting shooting stars seen from Earth.

The number of Lyrids are very unpredictable, with peak meteor rates between 10-100 per hour.   

When to watch tonight's meteor shower

Lyrids are best seen around 4 a.m. your local time in the northern hemisphere, but can bee seen anytime after 11 p.m.  The moon is brightening from a Half Moon on April 13 to a Full Moon on April 22, 2016. So, this bright moonlit sky will tend to wash out the 2016 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 midnight local time at the location where you're watching the skies.  Cloudless skies and far away from city lights are ideal for watching meteor showers.  

Where to look for watch the Lyrid Meteor Shower

Look straight up.  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.

How to Watch The April 2016 Meteor Shower

For optimal viewing, find an open sky, lie on the ground, and look straight up into the dark sky. It is important to be far away from artificial lights.  Your eyes can take up to 30 minutes to adjust to the darkness, so allow plenty of time for your eyes to dark-adapt.

Image and video credit: NASA