Lyrid meteor shower peaks tonight: Here's the best time to watch

Leada Gore
al.com (TNS)

Head outside overnight tonight and you may catch a glimpse of a shooting star or two.

The Lyrid Meteor Shower will peak overnight Thursday into Friday. The shower will reach its maximum around midnight Friday EST.

Lyrids are known for fast and bright meteors that have the potential to produce as many as 100 meteors per hour.

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We won’t see that this year, however. This year’s meteor shower is expected to produce about 10-15 Lyrids per hour, depending on how dark and clear the sky is.

Viewers hoping to catch a glimpse of a shooting star should find an area well away from city or street lights — and, hopefully, weather permitting — and come prepared with a sleeping bag, blanket or lawn chair.

Other NASA viewing tips:

Lie flat on your back with your feet facing east and look up, taking in as much of the sky as possible.

A small meteor trail is seen left of center in a composite picture made in Springville, Ala., about 1 a.m. Wednesday, April 23, 2014.  The curved lines are stars seen in several 30 seconds time-exposure photographs stacked together.   (Mark Almond/malmond@al.com) AL.com

After about 30 minutes in the dark, your eyes will adapt and you will begin to see meteors.

Be patient—the show will last until dawn, so you have plenty of time to catch a glimpse.

The fireballs created by Lyrid are unique. NASA said they frequently leave flowing dust trails behind them as they streak through the Earth’s atmosphere with the trains observable for several seconds. Their radiant – the point in the sky from which the Lyrids appear to come from – is the constellation Lyra, the harp, particularly the star Vega, the brightest star in the constellation.

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The Lyrids have been observed for 2,700 years with the first recorded sighting going back to 687 BC by the Chinese.  They are produced by debris from the Comet C/1861 G1 Thatcher.

The next chance to see a meteor shower will be from May 4-5 when the Eta Aquarids begin.