Lights Off, Blankets Out: Lyrid Meteor Shower Peaks Tonight

If the weather cooperates, Washingtonians could get a glimpse of the annual Lyrid meteor shower Friday night.

Top off your Earth Day celebrations tonight (April 22) by watching a parade of falling stars: The Lyrid meteor shower peaked this morning about 8 a.m. EDT (1200 GMT), but the display will continue tonight, according to NASA. AccuWeather senior meteorologist Dave Samuhel expects better viewing on Saturday night local time for those in Europe and Asia, especially in places far from "areas of potent light pollution" - rural areas, in other words.

The Lyrids fired up Monday and will peak Saturday.

The Lyrid meteors are pieces of the comet Thatcher, discovered and last seen in 1861, the most recent year it reached perihelion, the point in its orbit closest to the sun.

Earth is now passing through the trail of dust left behind by an ancient comet, and it's creating the ideal night of stargazing for those in the Northern Hemisphere.

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"Although not numerous, Lyrids are bright and fast meteors", PAGASA said. "If clear sky prevails Saturday morning (April 22nd), we might expect to see between 10-20 meteors per hour under dark, moonless skies", he said.

You don't need any kind of special astronomical kit to be able to see the shower. The moon will have nearly reached its "new moon" phase, creating a dark, moon-less night and the flawless viewing conditions for a meteor shower, JPL said.

For optimal viewing, find an open sky, lie on the ground, and look straight up into the dark sky.

The weather station's Space Science and Astronomy Section said the Lyrids meteor shower has been observed for more than 2,600 years.


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