This weekend should offer the best view of the Lyrid meteor shower in years, with a dark moonless night during the peak of the annual sky show.
The Lyrids will put on their best showing overnight on Saturday and into the following morning, when the new moon will be essentially invisible from Earth…
“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,” said Raminder Singh Samra, a resident astronomer at the H.R. MacMillan Space Centre in Vancouver, Canada.
“On rare occasions there may even be fireballs”—especially bright meteors—”streaking across the sky, too, making it quite a spectacular sight for observers…”
The Lyrids are thought to originate from comet Thatcher, whose 416-year orbit is nearly perpendicular to the plane of the solar system. That means the comet’s debris trail doesn’t experience many gravitational disturbances from planets, asteroids, and other comets.
Astronomers believe this stable stream of debris may be the reason the Lyrids have been a reliable sky show for centuries.
“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,” Samra said.
RTFA for suggestions. Enjoy the outdoors at night – tonight.