If the overnight hours are clear late Friday night, April 21, into the early morning hours of Saturday, April 22, observers may expect to see a fine display of “shooting stars” with the arrival of the Lyrid Meteor Shower.
Up to 10 meteors per hour radiate from a spot near the brilliant bluish star Vega. Viewing will improve as the radiant rises from low in the northeast at the end of twilight to a point high overhead in the early morning hours. The 25-day old waning crescent moon will not rise until after 4 a.m., thus assuring dark skies most of the night. The peak usually lasts for just a few hours; its predicted time this year is 12h UT, good-to-excellent for North America.
The shower’s maximum rate has ranged from 5 to 90 meteors per hour (as seen under ideal conditions) during the last 40 years. The shower remains above a quarter of its peak strength from April 19th to the 24th. These meteors are actually the dross left behind by Comet Thatcher, which visited the inner solar system in 1861; don’t wait up for it — it’s not due to return until sometime in the late 23rd century.
Do you have a pair of Farmers’ Almanac solar eclipse glasses for this summer’s Great American Solar Eclipse? Grab a pair from our online store before they’re gone.