This evening – April 21, 2016 – look eastward to see the full moon near Spica, the brightest star in the constellation Virgo the Maiden. The bright moon (and Spica) will be out all night long, to subdue the Lyrid meteors on their expected peak night. The most Lyrid meteors are expected to fly in the few hours before dawn April 22, but the light of the full moon is sure to wash out all but the very brightest Lyrid meteors.
Lyrid meteors on the mornings of April 22 and 23. The 2016 Lyrid meteor shower is expected to produce the most meteors in the wee hours after midnight and before dawn on Friday, April 22. In a dark sky, you may see 10 to 20 meteors per hour, but the full moon is sure to lessen the number this year.
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.
The Lyrids are usually a modest shower, featuring 10 to 20 meteors per hour on a moonless night. Some of these swift Lyrid meteors have even been known to produce fireballs – exceptionally bright meteors – and might be able to overcome the moonlit glare. 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.
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Bottom line: The best time to watch Lyrid meteor shower is during the dark hours before dawn – though, in 2016, the full moon is sure to subdue the number of visible meteors.