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Lyrid meteor shower lights up sky in April: When to watch, what you’ll see

Stargazers who love a good light show can see the Lyrid meteor shower streak across the night sky this month.

With stay-at-home mandates and social distancing measures in place during the coronavirus pandemic, many newcomers to the nighttime hobby can take time to observe this celestial event.

Weather permitting, the peak of the Lyrid meteor shower will be overnight on April 21-22, NASA meteor expert Bill Cooke told Space.com. As with most meteor showers, the peak viewing time takes place before dawn, but visibility of the Lyrids begins starting around 10:30 p.m. local time.

The annual Lyrid meteors show is an annual celestial event that is active from April 16 to April 25. The shower is caused by the “dusty trail” of the Comet Thatcher, Space.com says.

Cooke said the average Lyrid shower produces 15 to 20 meteors per hour, but sky watchers can expect to see about 10 per hour this year. It also depends on how clear and dark the sky is in your area.

According to NASA, the Lyrid meteor shower is distinct as being one of the oldest known meteor showers with records dating back to 2,700 years. The Lyrids appear to radiate from the constellation Lyra, where the name for the shower originates.

Space.com offers these tips for sky watchers trying to view the event:

  • Find an area away from city lights or street lights.
  • Prepare for weather conditions with a sleeping bag, blanket or lawn chair.
  • Give your eyes 15 to 20 minutes to adjust to the night sky; even in light-polluted areas, this will make a difference.
  • Try taping something red over any flashlights (such as red construction paper or red foil) or download a red filter app for phone screens to reduce glare.

In-the-Sky.org has free resources for your astronomy adventures that you can customize to your location.

Viewing conditions will depend on the weather and skies in your area. As a reminder, if you step outside to view this event, be mindful of social distancing guidelines.

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