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The annual Lyrids meteor shower peaks during the night of April 21st/22nd and this year's event promises to be a good one, as the 23% illuminated waning crescent Moon in Aquarius, won't significantly interfere. Normally, you can expect to see up to 20 meteors per hour under ideal conditions. In addition, the Lyrids do occasionally produce brilliant fireballs, that streak through the sky and cast shadows as they disintegrate in the Earth's atmosphere.

View just after midnight on April 22, 2017 from northern temperate latitudes (credit:- stellarium/freestarcharts)

Unlike sporadic meteors that originate from anywhere in the sky, periodic meteors can always be traced back to the same part of the sky (radiant point). Therefore, spotting this type of shooting star should be easy, just focus on the radiant point. Correct, not quite. The problem is that, although the meteors do originate from the radiant, they almost always streak across the sky many degrees from it. Therefore, good advice is to lie down on something like a reclining chair, look skywards and scan a large area of sky around the radiant, but not directly at it.

The Lyrids radiant is located inside Hercules. It's positioned close to the border with Lyra and only 6 degrees from Vega (mag. 0.0), the 5th brightest star in the sky. The best time to observe is around midnight and during the early hours of the morning.

Lyrids Radiant and Star Chart (credit:- freestarcharts)

Lyrids Radiant and Star Chart - pdf format (credit:- freestarcharts)

Lyrids Meteor Shower Data Table

Meteor shower nameLyrids
Radiant ConstellationHercules / Lyra border
Dates16th April -> 26th April
Peak Date22nd April
RA (J2000)18hr 04m
DEC (J2000)+34d
Speed (km/s)49
ZHR15
ParentC/1861 G1 Thatcher (comet)