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Meteor shower drought to end as Lyrids peak this weekend

In World
April 17, 2024

A shooting star of the Lyrid meteor shower is observed from the Mingantu Observing Station of National Astronomical Observatories on April 19, 2021, in Xilingol League, Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region of China. (Photo by Zhang Gang/VCG via Getty Images)

A flurry of shooting stars will flicker in the night sky as the weekend comes to a close and Earth Day kicks off, presenting the best opportunity to see a meteor shower since 2023.

The Lyrid meteor shower is predicted to peak on Sunday night into early Monday morning with 15 to 20 meteors per hour, according to the American Meteor Society. The event will bring an end to a meteor shower drought that started more than three months ago after the Quadrantids briefly peaked on a cold and, for many areas, cloudy night in early January.

The celestial show will begin not long after nightfall, but like most meteor showers, the Lyrids will be best seen after midnight as the shower’s radiant point rises high in the northeastern sky.

This year’s edition of the Lyrids will have some competition that could outshine all but the brightest meteors.

Swift-moving meteors may look like a blip in the sky compared to the nearly full moon which will glow throughout most of Sunday night. The moonlight will wash out many of the dimmer meteors, reducing the number of shooting stars onlookers will see.

For the best chance at spotting some meteors, experts recommend focusing on darker areas of the sky where the moon is out of sight. Looking at the moon for a few seconds can impact your night vision and make it more difficult to see the meteors.

Click here for the stargazing forecast for your area

A full moon will rise two nights later on April 23 and will be known as the Pink Moon. It is named after phlox, one of the first wildflowers to bloom in spring.

After the Lyrids in late April, the next meteor shower will be the Eta Aquarids, which peak on the weekend of May 4-5.

This is one of the best meteor showers of the year for the Southern Hemisphere, where around 50 meteors per hour can be seen. For areas in the Northern Hemisphere, hourly rates will likely top out around 30 per hour, slightly higher than the Lyrids.

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