The Lyrid Meteor shower will peak this weekend, and with a moonless sky, it could be the best show in years.
The Lyrids will peak late Saturday night / early Sunday morning. National Geographic reports that the Lyrid meteor shower is typically a moderate show, but this year could be different. Astronomers are expecting hundreds of meteors per hour during the peak of the Lyrids.
Raminder Singh Samra, a resident astronomer at the H.R. MacMillan Space Centre in Vancouver, Canada, said:
“Typical hourly rates for the Lyrids can run between 10 and 20 meteors. However, rates as high as a hundred meteors per hour are not uncommon. On rare occasions there may even be fireballs… streaking across the sky, too, making it quite a spectacular sight for observers.”
The Montreal Gazette notes that meteor showers occur when the earth passes through a cloud of debris from a passing comet. The Lyrid’s originated from the comet Thatcher, which orbits the sun every 415 years.
“Like clockwork every year in April, the Earth passes through the particle stream of this long-periodic comet, which last approached the sun in 1861. These particles hit our atmosphere while traveling at high speeds and burn up, leaving behind streaks of light.”
Here’s a video about the Lyrid meteor shower and the April sky.
If you’re hoping to catch a glimpse of the Lyrid meteor shower, your best bet is to drive away from city lights and watch the south east night sky. The meteor shower is expected to peak at about 2 a.m. on Sunday morning.