The Lyrid meteor shower peaks this Friday night and Saturday morning, April 21/22, and this year we have the perfect trifecta: a weekend event, a peak favorable for North America, and little to no moon interference. Now, all we need is clear skies!
The Lyrids are expected to crescendo to a peak somewhere between 11 p.m. Friday evening and 10 a.m. Saturday morning. One prediction I found even has them peaking at noon on Saturday.
Lyrids – April 21/22 – Local Circumstances for Dodgeville, WI
When to watch? At a minimum, I’d recommend observing at least two hours, from 2:30 to 4:30 a.m. You can expect to see maybe 15 fairly fast meteors per hour.
My friend Paul Martsching of Ames, Iowa has been one of the most active and meticulous meteor observers in the world. In nearly 30 years of observing this shower, he notes that 21% of Lyrid meteors leave persistent trains. Though few Lyrids reach fireball status, Paul did observe a -8 Lyrid at 1:50 a.m. on April 22, 2014 (his brightest Lyrid ever) that left a train that lasted five and a half minutes! Paul notes a color distribution of the Lyrid meteors as 73% white, 22% yellow, and 5% orange.
I’m still trying to find a good location within about 10 miles of Dodgeville to watch meteor showers. Governor Dodge State Park would be ideal, but anyone who isn’t camping has to leave the park by 11:00 p.m.
Meteor watching is most enjoyable in groups of two or more. I’m planning to observe this shower, so contact me if you’d like to team up!