CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida — The Lyrid meteor shower peaks tonight during the early morning hours of Sunday, April 23, 2017.
When to watch the Lyrid 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 will be entering its New Moon phase during the peak Lyrid dates. So, this dark night sky will create excellent viewing conditions for the 2017 Lyrid meteor shower.
Where to watch the Lyrid Meteor Shower
The Lyrid meteor shower can be viewed from all over the world. Cloudless skies and far away from city lights are ideal for watching meteor showers.
Where to look for watch the Lyrid Meteor Shower
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 which is located in the Summer Triangle.
The Summer Triangle is made of the three bright stars Deneb in Cygnus (the Swan), Altair in Aquila (the Eagle), and Vega in Lyra (the Lyre, or harp). Night skywatchers will be able to find Vega and Lyra high in the eastern sky a few hours after midnight in April.
How to Watch The April 2017 Meteor Shower
For optimal viewing, find an open sky, lie on the ground, and look straight up into the dark sky. Your eyes can take up to 30 minutes to adjust to the darkness, so allow plenty of time for your eyes to dark-adapt.
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. NASA forecasts that the peak rate of the Lyrids will be 18 meteors per hour in 2017.
Image and video credit: NASA