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The Lyrid Meteor Shower will reach its peak this weekend, offering a spectacle of up to 18 shooting stars per hour

This is the initial of two meteor showers occurring this spring.

By Rabbi KhanPublished about a month ago 4 min read
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PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES

The upcoming weeks will be filled with meteor showers, starting with the Lyrids’ peak this weekend. Depending on the conditions, this event could showcase stunning fireballs. The Lyrid meteor shower, peaking overnight from April 21-22, is the first of two spring meteor showers. The second one, the Eta Aquariids, will reach its peak in early May.

NASA predicts that this weekend’s event could display up to 18 Lyrids streaking across the sky per hour under optimal conditions. However, the bright waxing gibbous moon may make viewing a bit challenging. Nevertheless, if you find yourself in a dark-sky location from April 21-22, it is still recommended to try and observe the Lyrids.

Discover how and when to witness the 2024 Lyrid meteor shower, as well as when to anticipate the next one.

What Sets the Lyrid Meteor Shower Apart?

The Lyrids are formed by debris and particles from Comet Thatcher, resulting in an annual spring meteor shower renowned for its vibrant fireballs and occasional outbursts. These outbursts, which involve a remarkable number of shooting stars, occur approximately every 60 years. The next one is not expected until 2042, as per EarthSky.

Observing the 2024 Lyrid Meteor Shower

The 2024 Lyrid meteor shower will be active from April 14 to 30, with the peak activity expected between Sunday and Monday night. Look towards the constellation Lyra to witness this spectacle, which will rise above the northeast horizon around 10 p.m. While the Lyrid meteor shower can be seen from the southern hemisphere, it is most easily observed from the northern hemisphere.

Is 2024 a Promising Year for the Lyrid Meteor Shower?

This year, the bright moon shining all night may obstruct many meteors. To enhance your chances of viewing the show, consider observing from a stargazing-friendly location. Alternatively, you can wait a bit longer to enjoy another spring meteor shower.

If you have catching a meteor shower on your 2023 bucket list, you are in luck. The Delta Aquariid meteor shower peaks in late July, offering an average of 10 to 20 meteors per hour.

To witness the shower at its best, find a dark-sky location like a national park or stargazing hotel, with wide-open views towards the southern sky. It is recommended to be patient as your eyes will need around 30 minutes to adjust to the darkness.

Learn all about the 2023 Delta Aquariid meteor shower, from its origins to the best viewing spots.

Have any plans tonight? The Delta Aquariids meteor shower is due to peak after the sun goes down on July 29, according to NASA, and conditions are prime for some stargazing. So we think it's time you head out into the wilderness, prop up a chair, and look for shooting stars. Busy tonight? Don't fret. You'll likely be able to see them tomorrow night, too.

Now, the Delta Aquariids meteor shower isn't the most robust astronomical event, but you can consider it an appetizer to the main course of the Perseids, which is, in many stargazers' opinions, the best meteor shower of the year. (It peaks next month, on the night of Aug. 11.) But we think any chance to see shooting stars is a good one.

Here's everything you need to know about the Delta Aquariids meteor shower.

What Is the Delta Aquariids Meteor Shower?

The Delta Aquariids meteor shower occurs when the Earth moves through the trail of dusty debris left behind by the comet 96P/Machholz. When those particles hit the atmosphere, they burn up and create trails of light — we call these meteors or shooting stars. The Delta Aquariids' name comes from its radiant point, or the part of the night sky from which the shooting stars seem to emanate: specifically, the star Delta within the Aquarius. During the peak, approximately 20 meteors streak across the sky each hour, per NASA.

The Best Time and Place to See the Delta Aquariids Meteor Shower

The meteor shower runs from July 18 to August 21, but the best time to catch the show is on the peak night — this year, that's tonight, July 29. You'll be able to see them as soon as the sky is completely dark, and they should last all night long. Because this is somewhat of a weaker meteor shower, light from the moon often washes out the show. But this year, you're in luck. The new moon happened last night, so the skies are extremely dark, making conditions prime for seeing the Delta Aquariids. And while the show is strongest in the Southern Hemisphere, you can still see the shooting stars from the southern latitudes of the Northern Hemisphere.

How to See the Delta Aquariids Meteor Shower

The key is to get as far away from light pollution as possible to give yourself the best chance of seeing shooting stars. Once you're settled in the dark, give your eyes around 30 minutes to adjust, then simply look up. While the shooting stars appear to come from the Aquarius constellation, you'll be able to see them across the whole sky. According to EarthSky, they'll likely be closer to the horizon in the early evening, moving up to their highest point around 2 a.m. (when the constellation is highest in the sky), then returning back to the horizon by dawn. While most stargazing is best done through telescopes or binoculars, meteor showers are actually best viewed with the naked eye, as you can't predict where they'll be — you want the widest field of view possible.

When Is the Next Meteor Shower?

The Perseids meteor shower is often considered the best meteor shower of the year, and it peaks on the night of August 11 into the morning of August 12.

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  • Andrea Corwin about a month ago

    And the "devil comet" on April 21, right near sunset!! Cross our fingers to see the meteors and comets.

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