The Lyrid Meteor Shower Will Light Up The Sky This Weekend. Here’s How to Watch It


If you time it right, escape the city, and get a little bit lucky, astronomers say you’ll be able to watch a meteor shower light up the sky early Sunday morning. The annual mid-April Lyrid meteor shower is scheduled to peak between late Saturday and early Sunday morning around 2 a.m.;

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When the Lyra constellation — which is supposed to resemble a harp — rises in the northeast, said Quinn Sykes, the manager of Boston University’s observatory.

“You want to get somewhere dark,” Sykes said. “You don’t want to be in the city. Somewhere where there isn’t light pollution. A big field somewhere is great. Get out of Boston — that’s the best bet.”

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In order to see the shower, it’s a good idea to lie on the ground with your feet facing east, said Avi Loeb, the chair of Harvard University’s astronomy department. The shower should appear in the northeast and rise directly overhead as the night goes on, Loeb said. Bottom of FormExperts don’t expect it to be particularly strong — NASA is predicting about 20 meteors per hour, which means viewers could see a meteor every three minutes, Loeb said.

The Lyrid meteor shower is born from debris coming off a comet, he said.

“The comet is going around the sun, and as it goes around, it sheds dust,” Loeb said. “So there’s a trail of dust along its orbit, and the Earth is just crossing that thick trail of dust and intersecting it. And that’s when you get these meteors.”

These bits of dust and rock are entering the atmosphere at a fast speed, but they rarely hit the ground, Sykes said.

“They heat up to a point where they’re incandescent,” he said. “They’re coming in hot, but . . . they usually just burn up.”

Fortunately, Sykes said, you don’t need to use any special equipment to see these shooting stars.

“It’s almost better that you don’t,” he said. “You want to be looking at a large patch of the sky, so the best bet is using your eyes.”

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