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Environment

Lyrid Meteor Shower To Peak Overnight

an illustration of a meteor shower with lines spreading out
Graphic by Howard Hochhalter
/
Bishop Museum of Science and Nature
Lyrids meteor shower graphic

Early Wednesday morning will be the peak viewing day for the Lyrid meteor shower.  

Howard Hochhalter is the planetarium director at the Bishop Museum of Science and Nature in Bradenton. He said you'll want to wait until after midnight, "typically the show really starts to pick up around 1:30, two o'clock in the morning (in the early hours of Wednesday) and then goes on until just before sunrise." 

He said a full moon can really wreck the view, but the moon won't be an obstacle for this event. 

"The challenge to this is, these are relatively faint objects, they're little streaks of light across the sky, and if you live somewhere light-polluted, light pollution will make it very difficult to see them...as dark a sky as you can get will equal a much better view," Hochhalter said. 

A dark image with streaks of light across it
Credit NASA/MSFC/Danielle Moser
Composite image of Lyrid and not-Lyrid meteors over New Mexico from April, 2012.

"A common misconception is that because they're the Lyrids and associated with the constellation of Lyra, that you must look into the constellation to see the meteor shower," he added.

But Hochhalter said that's not true.

He explains it this way, "the radiant is to the meteor shower what a hub is to a spoked wheel. Lyra is where the hub is, and the meteor shower is the spokes."

Hochhalter said the best way to watch the meteor shower is parallel to the earth.

"And as you lay down, you point your eyes up to the sky - you're getting as maximum a view as possible, try to go somewhere where there aren't any trees or buildings blocking your view," said Hochhalter. "The only thing you might need to have a comfortable experience is a blanket, maybe a pillow."

If you prefer not to venture outside - you can watch from your phone or laptop, as NASA has a Facebook page for meteor-watching.