BIG COUNTRY, Texas (BigCountryHomepage.com) – Lyrid Meteor Shower, which is set to pass over the Big Country, brings an end to the annual meteor shower drought that occurs January through mid-April. While not as “flashy” as other showers during the year, this is one of the oldest showers in history.
Lyrid Meteor Shower history
The Lyrid meteor shower is among the oldest recorded meteor showers in history, according to EarthSky. Records for the Lyrids go back 2,700 years, discovered by ancient China in 687 BCE.
The Lyrids, like most meteor showers, are caused by debris from a passing comet.
In this case, the comet in question is Comet Thatcher. Thatcher was found in 1861 and takes 417 years to orbit the sun once.
We won’t see Thatcher with the shower though, it is currently more than nine billion miles from earth. In 45 years, it will reach its furthest point from earth and begin its very long journey back.
When to view
The best time to watch the shower will be late evening Thursday or late evening Friday. According to the American Meteor Society, the peak of the shower is expected 11pm on Thursday, April 22.
But where in the sky do you need to look?
Meteor showers all have a point of origin, called a radiant. The Lyrid shower radiant is near the bright start Vega in the constellation “Lyra the Harp”, which is how the shower got its name. But you do not have to identify Vega or Lyra in order to watch the meteor shower, you just have to know when the radiant rises. In this case, the Lyrid radiant rises in the northeast before midnight. Once the radiant has come over the horizon, you will see the most meteors.
Tips for viewing
If you want an early start to celebrating Earth Day with a late-night meteor shower in the Big Country, here are some viewing tips:
The moon will still be quite bright as the majority will be lit up in the Waning Gibbous phase. This is not prime condition for shower viewing, as the additional light can make the meteors hard to see.
Sitting in a shadow of a tree or building may allow your eyes to pick up on the meteors easier.
While the sky looks to cooperate, we will not only be fighting moonlight, but also city lights. If you want to see the most meteors, you need to get as far away from city and street lights as possible.
Clear skies and dark conditions will give you the most optimized view of the meteor shower.