Do Look Up: The Impressive Lyrids Meteor Shower Is Soaring Through the Skies This Month
Head away from the city lights — or even out to your backyard or balcony — and peer at the sky.
April 13, 2022
Been spending the first few months of 2022 pondering the future? That's only natural whenever a new year hits, especially a couple of years into a pandemic. Over the coming weeks, however, you might want to look to the skies as well — and feast your eyes on the night sky.
Across the second half of April each year, the Lyrids Meteor Shower sets the sky ablaze. This year, it's doing just that from April 14–30. It might not be as famous as Halley's Comet, but it's still very impressive. Plus, rather than only being visible every 75 years (the next Halley's Comet sighting is in 2061), you can catch the Lyrids annually.
In 2022, the Lyrids will be at its most spectacular over Friday, April 22 and Saturday, April 23. For folks located Down Under, you'll want to peer upwards early on the Saturday morning. Here's how to catch a glimpse from your backyard.
WHAT IS IT
The Lyrids Meteor Shower is named after constellation Lyra, which is where the meteor shower appears to come from near star Vega, and is created by debris from comet Thatcher. While the comet, which takes about 415 years to orbit around the sun, won't be visible from Earth again until 2276, the Lyrids can be seen every autumn between around April 14–30. So, you can even pencil it in for next year. It's also the oldest recorded meteor shower, so there's that, too.
On average, you can see up to 18 meteors per hour, but the Lyrids are also known to have outbursts of nearly 100 meteors per hour. So, while no outburst is predicted for 2022, you could get lucky.
WHEN TO SEE IT
In Australia, the shower will reach a peak in the early morning of Saturday, April 23 according to Time and Date, but will still able to be seen either side of those dates between Thursday, April 14–Saturday, April 30. The best time to catch an eyeful is just before dawn after the moon has set, so around 4am.
At that time, you'll be in the running to see meteors moving at about 177,000 kilometres per hour, shining extraordinarily brightly and leaving a long wake. The shower's cause is, essentially, the Earth getting in the comet's way, causing stardust to fry up in the atmosphere.
HOW TO SEE IT
When a meteor shower lights up the sky, getting as far away from light pollution as possible is the best way to get a prime view. If you can't do that, you can still take a gander from your backyard or balcony.
To help locate the Lyrids, we recommend downloading the Sky Map app — it's the easiest way to navigate the night sky (and is a lot of fun to use even on a non-meteor shower night). If you're more into specifics, Time and Date also have a table that shows the direction and altitude of the Lyrids. The site updates these details daily.
The one caveat: the weather. If showers or cloud pop up, they could present problems in terms of visibility. So, keep an eye on the forecast if you're making plans to head to a prime viewing location.
Top image: Mike Lewinski via Flickr.