TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — The first major meteor shower since January can still be viewed in the night sky this week — with a little luck.
The Lyrid meteor shower, one of spring’s most notable “shooting star” events, is typically active through April 30, though it was set to peak in the predawn hours Thursday, Earth Day, according to Space.com.
The only other meteor shower that has peaked so far this year was the Quadrantids in early January, EarthSky.com reports.
“By April, after the months of meteor drought, many meteor-watchers are itching to get going,” EarthSky.org reports. “So – though they produce only 10 to 15 meteors per hour at their peak – the Lyrids are always welcome.”
The Lyrid meteor shower always peaks during late April and, according to NASA, is one of the oldest known meteor showers, with the first recorded sighting dating back to 687 BC by the Chinese.
This meteor shower is known for fast and bright meteors, but the number of meteors per hour is nowhere near the Perseids in August. Expect between 10 to 20 meteors per hour during peak times.
The biggest challenge to view the shower will be getting away from light pollution or the light generated by streetlamps, signs, homes, etc. The darker the skies the better, so more rural locations would be optimal for viewing.
To best enjoy the meteor shower, bring a blanket or towel and lie flat on the ground in an area with a wide view of the sky. It will take a few moments for your eyes to adjust to the dark, but the longer you stay there, the better you will be able to see them.
Clouds make viewing much more challenging as does the moon phase.
While clouds obscure the sky, the light that the moon provides interferes with your ability to see the meteors, and on Thursday night into Friday morning, the moon phase is 87%.
After the moon sets — but well before dawn — would be the best time to view the meteor shower.
In addition to the Quadrantids meteor shower, which peaked the first week of January, the most visible will be the Lyrids (to peak in April), the Eta Aquariids (May), the Southern Delta Aquariids (July), the Perseids (August), the Orionids (October), the Leonids (November) as well as the Geminids and Ursids (both in December).