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

The night sky over the Burrup Peninsula

The clouds could hold off long enough for stargazers to get a glimpse of the Lyrid meteor shower.

If you find yourself in the United States on the night of April 21, take some time to check out the Lyrid meteor shower that's going to be lighting up the sky.

Observers looking in the eastern sky after midnight can expect around a dozen meteors per hour under favourable conditions, especially since this year's maximum occurs four days before new Moon. Each year in mid-April, Earth comes across the stream of debris from the comet, which causes the Lyrid meteor shower. Since the moon will be almost to its new moon phase, expect excellent moon-less viewing conditions this year.

Chinese records showed that "stars fell like rain" during the meteor shower of 687 B.C. However, in recent times, the Lyrids have generally been weak.

The Lyrids begin as tiny specks of dust that hit Earth's atmosphere at 109,600 miles per hour, vaporizing from friction with the air and leaving behind the streaks of light we call meteors, Astronomy magazine reported.

Meteor showers are named after the constellation coinciding with the area in the sky from which the meteors seem to emanate. The meteors appear to emanate from the constellation Lyra the Harp, near the bright star Vega, which rises in late evening and passes almost overhead shortly before dawn, the magazine said.

This year the peak is forecast for Saturday, April 22 from 8pm to dawn the next morning. "Bring along warm clothes and a blanket".

AccuWeather notes that the best viewing conditions will come from the western Great Lakes where clear skies should produce "uninterrupted viewing conditions".

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