First meteor shower in more than 3 months peaks Wednesday night

The Lyrids bring, on average, 10-20 shooting stars per hour in the Northern Hemisphere

First meteor shower in more than 3 months peaks Wednesday night
Meteor shower (Source: KSLA News 12)

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - We’re about to put an end to the annual early year meteor shower drought as one of the more famous showers peaks Wednesday night into early Thursday morning.

The Lyrids may not produce the number of meteors that the Perseids and Geminids do, but they are well-known and popular due to their timing and potential each year. With it being more than 3 months since the Quadrantids of early January, many are eager for another meteor shower.

The Lyrids peak Wednesday night.
The Lyrids peak Wednesday night. (Source: WSFA 12 News)

That fact alone makes the Lyrids a worthy shower. Throw in the tendency for the Lyrids to produce bright and quick-moving shooting stars and you’ve got yourself a great astronomy event to check out.

The timing to view the Lyrids is from 10 p.m. Wednesday through the predawn hours Thursday morning. All you have to do is look up because these meteors have an originating point high in the sky.

Moonlight will be a problem until 3:32 a.m. for the Lyrids meteor shower.
Moonlight will be a problem until 3:32 a.m. for the Lyrids meteor shower. (Source: WSFA 12 News)

Just be sure to do the following if you want to maximize your Lyrid meteor shower experience...

  • Head somewhere away from city lights
  • Elevate yourself to allow most of the night sky to be visible (avoid tall trees)
  • Give your eyes 20-30 minutes to adjust to total darkness
  • Dress warm with temperatures expected to be in the 30s and 40s
  • Look up and enjoy for at least an hour for the best chance at seeing shooting stars

The two potential problems for every meteor shower are the weather and moonlight. This year’s Lyrid meteor shower will fly with complete cooperation from Mother Nature. Yes it’ll be cold, but skies will be mainly clear and the lack of humidity means a “clean” atmosphere perfect for viewing meteors.

The weather will be great for viewing the peak of the Lyrid meteor shower. It will be cold, though.
The weather will be great for viewing the peak of the Lyrid meteor shower. It will be cold, though. (Source: WSFA 12 News)

The problem will be moonlight. The moon will be nearly 70% illuminated until it sets in the sky at 3:32 a.m. Thursday morning. So if you plan on watching the shower before that time, expect the moon’s brightness to wash out a healthy portion of the meteors.

If you can wait until after 3:32 a.m. you will most definitely increase your chances of catching multiple quick-moving shooting stars. Some of them will likely be rather bright and some could reach fireball status!

Copyright 2021 WSFA 12 News. All rights reserved.