Look up! Lyrid meteor shower returns to the tri-state area

The meteor shower drought that occurs at the beginning of each year has come to an end with the springtime Lyrids.

Michele Powers

Apr 17, 2024, 12:07 AM

Updated 36 days ago

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It’s that time of year - the Lyrids are here!
The meteor shower drought that occurs at the beginning of each year has come to an end with the springtime Lyrids. This shower will be peaking next week on April 22. Unfortunately, it looks like the moon will be bright and almost full. This could obscure some of the fainter meteors this shower is known for.
The meteor shower is visible for about two weeks, so you can start looking now through the end of the month. The best viewing will be on either side of the peak and very late at night. After midnight is best because that’s when the radiant point, the constellation Lyra, is highest in the sky.
The Lyrids are one of the oldest known meteor showers, with historical records dating as far back as 687 BC in China. There is also a record of them in the United States in Richmond, Virginia from 1803. Imagine that sight because there was no light pollution in the sky to take away from the view.
This shower has its origins from the Comet Thatcher. The comet was discovered back in 1861 when it last came through our solar system. It won’t return until 2278, but each year in April, the Earth orbits into the debris field left behind.
Lyra, the constellation, will be in the northeastern sky after midnight but you can really see the meteors anywhere. Find the darkest patch of sky you can and look up. It may take some time for your eyes to adjust, so grab a chair or blanket and relax. Lyra represents a musical instrument known as the lyre, it was first cataloged by Ptolemy, the astronomer, in the second century. Vega is the brightest star in the northern hemisphere and is part of this constellation.
This shower is known for its faint meteors, but as many as 10-15 per hour can be seen in the darkest sky.


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