It may be one of the most “average” showers in terms of meteor count, according to the Adler Planetarium, but it’s the first meteor shower of spring.
And, it should be visible throughout the Chicago area – as long as it’s not too cloudy.
One of the oldest known meteor showers according to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the annual spring shower of Lyrids has been observed for 2,700 years.
Lyrids are known for their fast, bright meteors and often leave behind glowing dust trails, according to NASA.
This year, the rain is expected to be visible on April 22-23 in the Chicago area, peaking at around 10-20 meteors per hour.
It will be best seen “under very dark and very clear skies,” reads a blog post on the Adler Planetarium website.
“This year, the Lyrids are expected to peak during the day light hours of April 22; so the best times to watch for Lyrid meteors this year are most likely during early morning darkness on April 22, and again during early morning darkness on April 23,” the planetarium says.
“The Moon rises two to three hours after midnight on these dates, which will mask some of the weaker meteors.”
Best times to see the Lyrid meteor shower over Chicago
Experts said the best time to view the iconic shower will be in the dark early morning Friday or Saturday.
According to timeanddate.com, a website that documents and predicts how to watch celestial events around the world, visibility for the shower drops from “poor” to “good” starting around 10 p.m. Thursday. Visibility should remain good until about 1:40 a.m. early Friday.
During the night from Friday to Saturday, visibility will be even better.
From 9:03 p.m. Friday evening, visibility will be “very good”, then will change to “excellent” around 9:30 p.m. Visibility is expected to remain “excellent” until early Saturday around 3:00 a.m.
On April 8, 2024, a total solar eclipse will be visible from the United States for the last time until 2045.
The planetarium suggests viewers step away from city lights and face east while looking up. Since showers can spread across the sky, binoculars or telescopes are not necessary.
According to the American Meteor Society, meteors are “caused by streams of cosmic debris called meteoroids entering the Earth’s atmosphere at extremely high speeds on parallel paths.”
The company noted that the Lyrids, peaking this week, and the eta Aquariids, peaking May 4-5, showers are among the most noticeable, weather and moonlight conditions permitting.