The lightning mapper on NOAA’s GOES East satellite registered a meteor early Wednesday, April 17th off the East Coast! You won’t need a satellite to see a few meteors this week though; the Lyrid meteor shower peaks the morning of Tuesday, April 23rd. At its peak, the Lyrid meteor shower can produce up to 20 meteors an hour.
This year’s peak could be tough to view though, as a bright waning gibbous moon will likely wash-out all but the brightest meteors. That means if you want to try to catch a few Lyrids, you’ll just have to be more strategic this year!
The best conditions for viewing a meteor shower would be a moonless sky and a high radiant point. The radiant point is where in the sky the meteors originate from. In the case of the Lyrids, the radiant point is near the star Vega in the constellation Lyra’s Harp. You do not need to look in this direction to see the meteors, but when the radiant point is higher in the sky it makes the meteors easier to spot.
This year we won’t have moonless sky, so it would be worth trying your luck before the moon rises; between sunset and midnight will be the best time to see the night sky without a glow from the moon. The radiant point of the meteor shower will still be quite low during this time though, which means meteors themselves will be closer to the horizon than they would be during the overnight and early morning hours.
The other option is to wait until the radiant point is highest in the sky, and hope to catch a few bright meteors that are able to shine through the moon’s glow. The radiant point of the Lyrid’s shower will be highest just before sunrise, when the moon is still a few hours from setting.