Lyrid meteor shower to light up night sky in April — here’s how to watch


FOX 5 DC 16 April, 2021 - 08:36pm 12 views

When is the meteor shower 2021?

The peak night of activity is expected to be Wednesday/Thursday, April 21/22, 2021, but the Lyrids tend to produce good rates of shooting stars for about three nights. So it's worth also looking skywards on Tuesday/Wednesday, April 20/21 and on Thursday/Friday, April 22/23, 2021. ForbesHow, When And Where You Can See A ‘Fireball’ This Week As Lyrid Meteor Shower Peaks

The Lyrid meteor shower is active from April 16-25 each year, peaking in the predawn hours April 22. The year's first supermoon follows on April 26.

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Here's a few need to know facts about April's Lyrid meteor shower. USA TODAY

If you look up, you may see a meteor shower painting streaks of light across the night sky, starting today until April 25.  

The Lyrid meteor shower takes place every year, and it happens due to the Earth moving through the remnants of the tail of a comet named Thatcher, said Michael Narlock, head of astronomy at Cranbrook Institute of Science in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan.

"Thatcher comes around every 400 years or so, but basically the solar system is strewn with debris of comet tails," Narlock said. "When that debris hits the Earth's atmosphere, it burns up and we see it as beautiful streaks in the nighttime sky." 

The meteor shower is active from April 16-25, peaking April 22 in the predawn hours. The meteor shower will occur near the Lyra constellation, which is denoted by the bright star Vega. 

"What I usually suggest is go out to a dark place, as far away from the city lights as you can get. Take your camping equipment like your Coleman grill, Coleman tents or something like that," he said. "Lay down and look up. That's the best advice." 

Another celestial event coming this month is the year's first supermoon, also called the pink moon, which will happen April 26. 

Although adorably dubbed as the "pink moon," Narlock said the moon will unfortunately not be pink.

"The moon does change color depending on how much stuff and particles are in the atmosphere," Narlock said. "It's the same reason, essentially, why the sunset and sunrises are a nice red."

"Supermoon," isn't a proper astronomical term, but it has come to mean the moon is closer in orbit to Earth, Narlock said. 

"If you had a picture of the regular moon and a picture of a supermoon, and you put them side-by-side, you would notice a difference, a difference both in size and in brightness," Narlock said. "However, because you won't have that ability, when people see the moon in the nighttime sky, supermoon or not, most people will not notice a single difference." 

According to the Farmer's Almanac's website, the "pink moon" name comes from the springtime bloom of certain wildflowers like creeping phlox, also called "pink moss." The supermoon will most likely have a golden hue, and its peak illumination will take place late on April 26.

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How to watch the Lyrid meteor shower 18 April, 2021 - 02:00pm

The Lyrids will light up the skies starting this weekend.

The comet may be a rare sight, but Earth passes through debris from its orbit every year in late April. This year, the medium-bright meteors that occur when the debris streaks through the atmosphere will be visible between April 16 and April 30 in the Northern Hemisphere. 

Typically, the Lyrids produce 10 to 20 meteors an hour, though they can occasionally burst out with a volley of 100 or so an hour. Such outbursts have been recorded in the United States in 1803 and 1982, in Greece in 1922 and in Japan in 1945, according to NASA. 

Amazing photos of the Perseid meteor shower

In photos: Glitzy images of a supermoon

When space attacks: 6 craziest meteor impacts 

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