Lyrids 2024: Where to See the Meteor Shower in April
One of the most noteworthy stargazing events this month is the Lyrid meteor shower that will be peaking soon. In today’s article, we’ll tell you more about this beautiful meteor stream and give some viewing tips that will help you to catch as many shooting stars as possible!
- How to see the Lyrid meteor shower 2024?
- What is the Lyrid meteor shower?
- What causes the Lyrid meteor shower?
- The Lyrids 2024: Bottom line
How to see the Lyrid meteor shower 2024?
The Lyrids are active from April 14-30 each year, with a peak on April 21-22. During the peak, observers can see about 18 meteors per hour under perfect viewing conditions. Flying at the velocity of 49 kilometers per second (30 miles/second), the Lyrid meteors often leave persistent dust trails and can produce bright fireballs.
Unfortunately, this year, the peak occurs only two days before the Full Moon, so the bright moonlight will certainly hide most meteors from the view.
Where to see the Lyrid meteor shower?
The April Lyrid meteors are visible from many sites north and south of the equator, however, they’re best viewed from the Northern Hemisphere. Start your observations from mid-northern sites after about 22:30 local time. From the mid-southern latitudes, the meteors are better visible well after midnight.
Generally, the observation window starts after the radiant point rises; the meteor shower is best seen when the radiant is highest in the sky. The Lyrids’ radiant point is located in the constellation Lyra, rather close to Vega, one of the brightest stars in the entire night sky. To find it in the sky, use the Sky Tonight app: type the “April Lyrids” in the search field and tap the target icon next to the correlating search result.
Don't be surprised by the "April" in the meteor shower's name! Although this shower is often referred to as the Lyrids for short, its official name is the April Lyrids. Being the most prolific meteor shower with the radiant in Lyra, it is not the only one. There are also the eta Lyrids, the June Lyrids, the mu Lyrids and many more.
During the observations, you don’t have to look directly at the radiant point — the meteors can appear anywhere in the sky. To catch more meteors, find a place far from light pollution; prepare a blanket, a deckchair, and a thermos with hot coffee or tea to keep you warm. You don’t need any special equipment to see the meteors — your eyes will adapt to the darkness after about 30 minutes in the dark, becoming an excellent observational tool.
What is the Lyrid meteor shower?
The Lyrids are one of the oldest known meteor showers: it has been observed for 2700 years. The first recorded observation of these fast and bright meteors by the Chinese sky gazers goes back to 687 BC!
Although the April Lyrid meteor shower is not as prolific as the famed August Perseids or the December Geminids, it can amaze observers with as many as 100 meteors per hour: such surges were observed in 1803, 1922, 1945, 1982, and 1985. It’s difficult to predict such outbursts, which are one of the reasons why the Lyrids are worth watching.
What causes the Lyrid meteor shower?
The constellation Lyra is not the source of the Lyrids; the radiant situated in the constellation only helps observers determine which shower they are watching on a particular night. The parent body of the Lyrid meteor shower is a long-period comet C/1861 G1 (Thatcher) discovered on April 5, 1861, by the amateur astronomer A. E. Thatcher. When our planet passes through the trail left by the comet, the pieces of dust and debris comprising it burn up in the terrestrial atmosphere, producing dazzling lights in the sky.
The Lyrids 2024: Bottom line
The Lyrid meteor shower is one of the best stargazing events of April. It delivers 10-20 meteors per hour at its peak and is known for periodic bursts of activity. Check out our dedicated article to see what other meteor showers are peaking this season. Enjoy the beautiful meteors, take photos of them, and don’t forget to share them with us on social media.
Wishing you clear skies and happy stargazing!