Saturday, April 20, 2013

Lyrid Meteor Shower Peaks Tomorrow Night

The next few nights, with Sunday night as the peak, provide the opportunity to see some meteors in the eastern and southeastern sky through the course of the night.  The Lyrid meteor shower, named because of the meteor's perceived origination in the constellation Lyra, typically occurs in mid to late April annually.  This year, the meteor shower coincides with a waxing and very bright moon that will also be in the south and southeast sky.

At the shower's peak the next couple of nights, up to 20 meteors may be viewable per hour streaking across the sky.  These are best viewed in rural areas, away from urban and suburban light influences, and in places with a relatively clear view of the eastern horizon.  The later in the night one gets, the better the viewing may be due to the moon's proximity in the southeast sky in the evening hours.  Moonset tonight in Philadelphia is 3:35 AM, with it occurring at 4:06 AM on Sunday night.

Meteor showers are quasi-regular features of the night sky. These small meteor particles are often debris from comets that earth traverses through. These particles of dirt, rock, and ice streak across the atmosphere, burning up and providing the "shooting star" or streak across the sky.