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  4. The Lyrid meteor shower could give you the chance to see up 20 shooting stars this weekend. Here's how to watch.

The Lyrid meteor shower could give you the chance to see up 20 shooting stars this weekend. Here's how to watch.

The Lyrid meteor shower could give you the chance to see up 20 shooting stars this weekend. Here's how to watch.
A picture taken during the Lyrid meteor shower. The event can offer about 10-20 shooting stars per hourAdventure_photo/iStock / Getty Images Plus
  • A meteor shower peaking this weekend is due to offer a spectacular show.
  • The Lyrid meteor shower offers between 10 and 20 shining meteors an hour.

The Lyrid meteor shower is peaking this weekend, giving lucky skygazers the chance to see between 10 and 20 shooting stars an hour.

The event happens every year when the Earth passes through a cloud of dust left behind by the tail of a comet.

As debris from the comet falls into our planet's atmosphere, it burns up, leaving behind a trail of dazzling shooting stars in the night sky that can be viewed for several seconds.

This year, conditions are optimal to catch a glimpse of the streaks with the naked eye, as the moon will be in its first crescent and won't be obscuring the show.

The showers began last week and are due to peak on Friday 21 April to Sunday 23 April in the Northern hemisphere. The Southern hemisphere will also have a chance to see Lyrid meteors, but they will be fewer. Here's how to get the best view of this stunning event, according to NASA.

If you can, go just before dawn

If you can, go just before dawn
Going late at night gives you the best chance of seeing the showers.      Longhua Liao/Getty Images

The best time to view the showers is during the dark hours, per NASA. That's when the moon has set, but the sun hasn't risen yet.

That gives you the best shot of seeing the showers. The shooting stars of the Lyrids are known for being characteristically long — they last a few seconds — but they will still be dim in comparison to moonlight or sunlight.

If dawn isn't an option, chance going late at night

If dawn isn
The Lyrid meteor shower at night.      NASA/Screenshot

If the dark hours aren't an option, you may still get a pretty good show from 10:30 p.m., NASA meteor expert Bill Cooke told Space.com.

That's in part because of the serendipitous timing of the moon. At the time when the meteor shower is at its peak, the moon will be in its waxing crescent, meaning its only casting 6% of its maximal light, per Space.com.

That means that even if the moon is out, it likely won't be too bright to dim the showers.

Friday or Saturday will give you the best show

Friday or Saturday will give you the best show
A meteor seen streaking through the sky.      Ethan Miller/Getty Images

The Earth is already passing through the cloud of dust that is causing the showers, so you may already be seeing more shooting stars in the sky.

But the showers will peak around Friday and Saturday, per NASA. At that point, there should be about 18 meteors falling through the sky per hour.

That's pretty good for a Lyrid, In general, 10-20 Lyrid meteors can be seen per hour during their peak, per NASA.

But the Lyrids can get much more intense. In years where there is a so-called outburst, more than 100 shooting stars can be seen in an hour. Sightings of these heavier showers occurred in 1803 (Virginia), 1922 (Greece), 1945 (Japan), and 1982 (U.S.), per NASA.

These outbursts are hard to predict, however.

Lie on your back and point your feet East

Lie on your back and point your feet East
People looking up at a meteor shower.      harpazo_hope/Getty Images

For the best shot at seeing the showers, head away from the city lights that create a lot of background light pollution.

Lay on your back (bring a blanket, lawn chair or sleeping bag) and look straight up to the sky. No need to bring goggles or a telescope as the meteors are best seen with the naked eye.

NASA recommends pointing your feet towards the East for the best view of the shower.

The shooting stars can appear anywhere in the sky, but if you want something to point your gaze to, look for the Lyra constellation, which is what the shower is named for as the Lyrids often seem to emerge from that corner of the sky.

Be patient and let your eyes adjust

Be patient and let your eyes adjust
Going late at night give you the best chance of seeing the showers.      Qing Zai Yi Téng / EyeEm/Getty images

Chances are you weren't driving in complete darkness and you would have been looking at your phone to get you where you need to be.

That means your eyes will need some time to adjust to the darkness.

Be patient. Give your eyes at least 30 minutes to get used to the dark sky, says NASA. And watch the shooting stars emerge.




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