This weekend brings the Lyrid meteor shower into view. From late evening on Friday (April 20) until dawn Saturday, and even better viewing April 21 until the probable peak at dawn Sunday. You can try Sunday night (April 22) until dawn Monday too if the previous nights were cloudy, but the chances are less of seeing many.

The radiant point where the meteors appear to be coming from is near the star Vega which is in constellation Lyra. That will be at its highest in the sky in those early morning hours and you’re more likely to see multiple meteors. We say it appears to come from Vega, but Vega is actually trillions of times farther away from those meteors. Vega is 25 light-years away. Those numbers always make me feel smaller – and more amazed at the universe.   Here is some help on finding Vega

The Lyrid meteors are the debris of a comet orbiting the sun that is burning up in the atmosphere about 60 miles (100 km) up.

Unfortunately, I will be in a big city this weekend, so viewing will be not very good due to the artifical light. But for most people, the waxing moon will have set by late night, leaving the predawn hours dark. And before dawn, you can see the three planets, Jupiter, Saturn and Mars.

 

Note for Southern Hemisphere observers via earthsky.org: Because this shower’s radiant point is so far north on the sky’s dome, the star Vega rises only in the hours before dawn. It’ll be lower in the sky for you than for us farther north on Earth’s globe, when dawn breaks. That’s why you’ll see fewer Lyrid meteors. Still, you might see some! Try watching before morning dawn on April 21, 22 and 23.