Winter was long and tough enough with so much cold and snow, but for star-gazers it was even longer with the absence of much significant activity in the sky.
Now, though, comes the Lyrid meteor shower 2014 peak dates, April 21 and 22, with a sneak preview already underway.
The Lyrids is the first major meteor shower since the Quadrantids in early January each year, and the Lyrids’ peak tends to be short-lived. And this year, a bright moon may obscure much of the show.
Still, you might also see meteors before and after that date since we’re crossing the Lyrid meteor shower stream from now until April 26.
And there's more good news: While you can expect to see 10-20 meteors per hour on the peak morning, the Lyrids often surprise, sometimes raining meteors at a rate of up to 100 per hour.
Earthsky.org tells us the Lyrid meteor shower is one of the oldest known to man, going back some 2,700 years. The ancient Chinese are said to have observed the Lyrid meteors “falling like rain” in the year 687 BC.
The usual viewing tips for peak meteor shower dates apply: Find a dark place, away from light pollution, bundle up, look up, and enjoy the show. Lyrid meteors are known for their luminous dust trains, which can be observable for several seconds.
And NASA's tip for watching the Lyrid meteor shower 2014 version is to take a look after moonset and before dawn on 23 April.
Fast Facts from NASA:
- Comet of Origin: C/1861 G1 Thatcher
- Radiant: constellation Lyra
- Active: 16-25 April 2014
- Peak Activity: 21-22 April 2014
- Peak Activity Meteor Count: 20 meteors per hour
- Meteor Velocity: 49 km (30 miles) per second