(CNN) After no major annual meteor shower for months, the Lyrids are here to end the drought.
Known as one of the oldest recorded meteor showers, the Lyrids are expected to emit 10 to 15 meteors per hour over three nights centered on its peak at 9:06 pm ET on Saturday, according to EarthSky.
The Lyrids have been appearing in the sky ever since April 15 and will last until April 29, but their peak is relatively narrow compared to the famous summer Perseids and other showers.
The best time to view the Lyrids — with the chance to see the most meteors — is from late Saturday night to early Sunday morning.
The good news is that a near new moon will leave perfect viewing conditions, without the interference of bright light from what a full moon would bring.
“The moon will obscure all but the brightest meteors, so when there’s no lunar interference, you’ll see bright, dim, all meteors coming out,” said Robert Lunsford, the fireball report coordinator for the American Meteor Society. “The chance for surprises (with the upcoming shower) is pretty slim, but since we don’t have a moon in the sky and it’s happening on a weekend, we encourage everyone to give it a try, check it out.”
In an area away from light pollution, observers can expect to catch a meteor every five minutes, Lunsford said. If you’re near a city or bright lights, expect one every 15 minutes or so.
Occasionally, the Lyrids exceed expectations, with outbursts of up to 100 per hour averaging every 60 years. The next eruption is expected for 2042, according to society. Although no outbursts are predicted for this year, the Lyrids may still be worth your time, with a portion of them being fireballs, extremely bright meteors in the sky, Lunsford said.
The history of the Lyrids dates back centuries
The Lyrids were first recorded in 687 BC, according to NASAmaking this meteor shower one of the oldest on record.
“When people first noticed it, like 2,700 years ago, they only noticed it because they saw something falling in the sky. But at the time, they didn’t understand what meteors really were – it took longer it,” said Peter Vereš, an astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. “It was only in the 19th century when we kind of understood that they actually came from space.”
Every meteor shower has a parent comet from which the debris that makes up the shower originates. the lyrids’ The comet was named C/1861 G1 Thatcher, and it is a little over halfway through its 415-year orbit. The comet is far from Earth, but we encounter its debris trail every year.
Due to planetary perturbations, disturbances in a planet’s orbit, denser clumps of debris occur every 60 years caused by this comet’s proximity to Jupiter and Saturn, Lunsford said. This eruption was the first recorded over 2,700 years ago.
How to see a meteor
The Lyrids may not be the most active in the annual rain. But compared to the hundreds of other meteor showers discovered by scientists using professional equipment, Vereš said, this shower may offer a few meteors each hour that are bright enough for a casual observer to see. .
If you’re looking to see one of these meteors, it’s best to go out at a time when its bright Lyra, the constellation from which the meteors appear to originate, is above the horizon. For most, that’s in the last few hours before dawn. Those in the southernmost part of the world, New Zealand and Australia, still see meteors but at reduced rates because Lyra doesn’t rise as high above the horizon as it does in the Northern Hemisphere, Lunsford said.
“Indulge in looking at the universe,” says Vereš. “It’s becoming increasingly rare that we have time to actually go out and see events like this — one reason is light pollution that cuts our ability to go out and actually see anything in the sky.
“It’s important to go outside sometimes and not stare at our computers and screens all the time and spend some time outside in nature to enjoy the dark sky that (is) around us.”
More meteor showers to come
If you miss the narrow peak of the Lyrids, there are many more opportunities to see a meteor.
Here are the remaining meteor showers of 2023 and their peak date:
• Eta Aquariids: May 5-6
• Southern Delta Aquariids: July 30-31
• Alpha Capricornids: July 30-31
• Perseids: August 12-13
• Orionids: October 20-21
• Southern Taurids: November 4-5
• Northern Taurids: November 11-12
• Leonids: November 17-18
• Geminids: December 13-14
• Ursids: December 21-22
Solar and lunar eclipses
The last eclipse was a rare annular-total eclipse which occurred on Wednesday but is only visible over parts of Australia, East Timor and Indonesia in its narrow path through the Indian Ocean. While this one is hard to see, you have other opportunities this year to see one in your area:
If you live in North, Central or South America, an annular solar eclipse will occur on October 14, when the moon moves in front of Earth’s view of the sun, creating a crisp and fiery circle in the sky.
For those in Africa, Asia and Australia, a penumbral lunar eclipse will take place on May 5, and on October 28, a partial lunar eclipse can be found in Europe, Asia, Australia, Africa, parts of North America and most of South America. Lunar eclipses occur when the moon enters Earth’s shadow and causes the moon’s surface to darken.
The moon is fuller
The next full moon will bring the first week of May, a time for flowers – hence its name, the flower month. Here is the list of full moons remaining in 2023, according to the Farmers’ Almanac:
• May 5: Flower month
• June 3: Strawberry moon
• July 3: Buck moon
• August 1: Sturgeon moon
• August 30: Blue moon
• September 29: Harvest moon
• October 28: Hunter’s moon
• November 27: Beaver moon
• December 26: Cold month