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Lyrid meteor shower tonight

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Lyrid Meteor Shower To Peak Tonight (April 21) But May Be Dulled By Moonlight

Posted: 04/21/2013 10:14 am EDT

Video, Astronomy, Comet Thatcher, Lyrid Meteor Shower, Lyrid Meteors, Astronomy, Meteor Shower Peak, Meteors, Moon, Space, Skywatching, Science News

By: Tariq Malik
Published: 04/21/2013 07:33 AM EDT on

The annual Lyrid meteor shower will peak tonight (April 21) and early Monday, but the moon's bright light may spoil the celestial fireworks display.

The Lyrid meteor shower occurs each year in mid-April when the Earth passes through a trail of dusty debris from the Comet Thatcher (C/1861 G1), which orbits the sun once every 415 years. Humans have been observing this particular meteor shower for at least 2,600 years.

Typically, the Lyrid meteor shower is a relatively faint stargazing event, though observers with clear dark skies away from city lights can usually spot up to 15 or 20 meteors an hour. The meteors appear to radiate out of the constellation Lyra (hence their name), which can be found in the eastern night sky tonight. [Amazing Lyrid meteor shower photos of 2012]

The moon is expected to spoil much of this year's Lyrid meteor display because it is currently in its bright gibbous phase, with the lunar disk nearly 85-percent illuminated, according to's stargazing columnist and meteorologist Joe Rao. That means that moonlight will likely wash out fainter Lyrid meteors, with only the brightest streakers being visible.

The best time to seek Lyrid meteors is actually in the wee hours of Monday morning (April 22) after the moon has set, but before the sun rises. This observing window opens at about 4 a.m. your local time and can close by about 4:30 a.m. At that time the Lyrid radiate will nearly directly overhead in the night sky, Rao explained.

Here are some tips to view the Lyrid meteor shower:

Don't stare directly at Lyra: Focusing on the radiant point of the meteor shower sounds like a good idea, but the Lyrid that tend to occur there appear to have short tails and look more like unimpressive dots, NASA scientists have said. A better technique is to lie on your back (or a comfortable reclining chair) and look straight up.

Get comfortable: It can be a long, cold night without warm clothes or a blanket, depending on your location. Also, don't expect to just step outside and see some meteors. Make sure to give yourself at least 40 minutes to allow your eyes to adjust to the darkness.

Get away from city lights: They really can spoil a meteor shower, and this year that potential is doubled since the moon is already interfering with the display.

The Lyrid meteor shower is not the only celestrial event occuring this week. On Thursday (April 25) the moon will pass through part of the Earth's shadow in a partial lunar eclipse. The eclipse will be primarily visible in its entirety from parts of eastern Europe or Africa, central Asia and western Australia, according to NASA eclipse expert Fred Espenak.

Editor's note: If you snap a great photo Lyrid meteor shower that you'd like to share for a possible story or image gallery, send photos, comments and your name and location to managing editor Tariq Malik at

This from the Huffington Post, where they have links to other years' photos.

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Member Comments About This Blog Post
  • PAULA3420
    I was so hopeful about viewing the meteor showers, until our last storm hit Monday afternoon and blessed us with snow throughout the evening into this morning. Maybe next year we will be able to watch. HOPE a HOPE!

    Loved reading your blog. emoticon
    1859 days ago
    It seems like we are always overcast when we have a meteor shower or anything else going on in the night sky.
    1861 days ago
    I love meteor showers...
    1861 days ago
    If I'm up for a pee at 4 a.m. and I can find my glasses I'll stick my head out the window and see it I can see anything.
    1861 days ago
  • _UMAMI_
    Hmmmm.....maybe if I don't pee before bed, I'll wake up early enough to see the showers.

    Oops, that came out wrong.

    I'd love to see them. Must plan a camping trip around stellar activity one of these days.
    1861 days ago
    Thanks for the information. I must read the whole rhing later scooter, HUGS Pat .

    I am back it sounded very interesting. I was hoping to come over to Plattsburgh on Tuesday but once again it sounds like it will not happen. Too many appointments on their side HUGS Pat in Maine.
    Take care I am glad to hear you are working a little. emoticon emoticon emoticon
    1861 days ago

    Comment edited on: 4/21/2013 9:57:46 PM
    Thank you!
    1861 days ago
    Thank you so much for all the information. emoticon emoticon
    1861 days ago
    emoticon I too posted about the shower in my blog today .. how funny. I hope you and I get to enjoy it for a moment tonight.
    1861 days ago
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