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Photo: m-gucci/Getty Images/iStockphoto
Photo: m-gucci/Getty Images/iStockphoto

The Lyrid meteor shower has begun; here’s when and where to look

A monthslong pause in known meteor showers ends when the Lyrids begin to prick the night sky this week.

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The Lyrids fired up Monday and will peak Saturday. The best time to view the peak of the Lyrids is expected to be Saturday morning about an hour before dawn, according to EarthSky. Some parts of the western United States and southeast states will have the best viewing conditions late Friday night into Saturday, according to AccuWeather.

The American Meteor Society said the Lyrids will be most active during a waning crescent moon, which is better than a full moon as far as light pollution is concerned, but still could cause some interference.

“It would be best to face toward the northern half of the sky with the moon at your back,” AMS recommends.  “This will allow you to see the fainter Lyrids, which will be more numerous than the bright ones.”

The Lyrids appear to come from an area to right of the bright star Vega. The higher Vega is in the sky, the more Lyrids are likely to be seen. Courtesy EarthSky.org

The Lyrids is one of the oldest known meteor showers, with records going back about 2,700 years, EarthSky says. They are created by debris from the comet Thatcher, which takes about 415 years to orbit around the sun, according to Time and Date.com.

While the Lyrids can be a modest show, several outbursts have occurred, and an event in 1982 sent as many as 100 meteors per hour toward Earth.

EarthSky said it’s more likely that about 10 to 20 meteors per hour will be seen in the pre-dawn hours of Saturday.

Also, the Lyrids are known for producing fireballs.

“Meteor showers are notorious for being fickle so you really never know for sure what’s in store unless you watch,” EarthSky notes.

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