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Moon and Venus early evening, Lyrids before dawn

If you miss the young moon on April 19, try again as the waxing crescent moon swings close to the Pleiades cluster on April 20, and the star Aldebaran on April 21. Fortunately, the moon will set early, leaving dark skies for the April 2015 Lyrid meteor shower. The green line depicts the ecliptic.

Tonight for April 21, 2015

Tonight – April 21, 2015 – look westward as darkness falls for the beautiful waxing crescent moon and bright planet Venus. They will dominate the western sky shortly after the sun goes down. As night passes, and Earth spins under the sky, the moon and Venus will soon follow the sun below the western horizon, leaving the sky dark for the 2015 Lyrid meteor shower. Follow the links below to learn more:

Moon and Venus on April 21

Lyrid meteors on the mornings of April 22 and 23

Yuri Beletsky posted this photo at EarthSky Facebook.  He wrote:

Yuri Beletsky posted this photo at EarthSky Facebook. He wrote: “The Lyrids will peak on April 22, 2015, don’t miss it ! Here is my image of the Lyrids of the last year from Atacama desert. Although in the Southern hemisphere the conditions for observing the meteor shower aren’t perfect, nevertheless it’s not impossible to enjoy the view. Good luck to everyone!”

Venus and moon March 22, 2015 from John Gravell in Boston.

Here are Venus and moon as they appeared in our western sky after sunset last month – March 22, 2015 – from John Gravell in Boston. See photos of this month’s moon and Venus.

Moon and Venus on April 21. You can’t miss this dazzling duo – the two brightest objects in the nighttime sky – if you look outside after sunset.

Earlier this month, Venus passed between two famous star clusters in the constellation Taurus the Bull – the tiny, dipper-shaped Pleiades and V-shaped Hyades – and still appears near the star Aldebaran, brightest star in Taurus, in our evening sky.

In the coming days, the moon will move on, waxing, growing larger in our sky, appearing more to the east each evening as it pursues its eastward orbit around Earth. The next full moon will come on the night of May 3-4, 2015.

Meanwhile, Venus will remain in the west after sunset through July. It will have an amazing conjunction with another bright planet in our sky, Jupiter, in June and July! Start watching Venus now (and note Jupiter’s location, to the east of Venus now on the sky’s dome, edging closer in the coming weeks and months). You’ll enjoy it!

April 2015 guide to the five visible planets

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The radiant point of the Lyrid meteor shower is near the bright star Vega in the constellation Lyra the Harp.

The radiant point of the Lyrid meteor shower is near the bright star Vega in the constellation Lyra the Harp. Read more.

Lyrid meteors on the mornings of April 22 and 23. The 2015 Lyrid meteor shower is expected to produce the most meteors in the wee hours after midnight and before dawn on Wednesday, April 22, or Thursday, April 23, with the nod going to the second date. Best yet, the waxing crescent moon will set at early evening, providing a dark sky for meteor watching. In a dark sky, you may see 10 to 20 meteors per hour.

No matter where you live worldwide, it’s likely the most Lyrid meteors will fly in the dark hour before dawn. That’s when the radiant point of the shower – in the constellation Lyra the Harp – will be highest in the sky. Find a place away from artificial lights and recline comfortably while looking in all parts of the sky.

Sun’s rising time in your sky

The Lyrids are usually a modest shower, featuring 10 to 20 meteors per hour. Some of these swift Lyrid meteors have even been known to produce fireballs – exceptionally bright meteors. The Lyrids aren’t an altogether predictable shower, and in rare instances can bombard the sky with up to nearly 100 meteors per hour.

Lyrid meteors appear to radiate from the constellation Lyra, near the star Vega. But the meteors burn up in the atmosphere about 100 kilometers – or 60 miles – up. Vega lies trillions of times farther away at 25 light-years. But you don’t have identify the meteor shower radiant to enjoy the Lyrid meteors, which can fly in any part sof the night sky. If you trace the paths of the Lyrid meteors backward, however, they seems to radiate from this part of the starry sky.

Want more? Try these links:

Everything you need to know: Lyrid meteor shower

Top ten tips for meteor watchers

EarthSky’s meteor shower guide for 2015

EarthSky astronomy kits are perfect for beginners. Order today from the EarthSky store

Bottom line: The best time to watch 2015 Lyrid meteor shower is after midnight and before dawn. The best viewing for the Lyrid shower will be about 2 a.m. until dawn on Wednesday morning – April 22 – or Thursday morning – April 23. Go someplace where it’s really dark (no city lights). Just lie back comfortably and gaze in all parts of the sky.