The Lyrid meteor shower will begin peaking this weekend, late on Sunday night/early Monday morning. The best times to see the Lyrids will be in the early morning on April 22, after the Moon has set, which will be between 3:45am and 4:30am for those in the US.
The meteor shower this year is expected to peak at about 20 meteors an hour when seen from a dark location. Of course if you are watching in the earlier hours of the night when the bright Moon is still out you will probably see less than that. For those interested, the meteor shower has actually already begun, you should already be able to see a few meteors an hour, if watching from a dark location.
The Lyrid meteor shower is somewhat variable, and fluctuates year to year and over time, depending on how thick the dust patch that we pass through that year is. The most prolific Lyrids meteor shower in (relatively) recent years, was the 1803 storm, which peaked at about 700 meteors an hour. The scene was described by some observers as looking like “all of the stars in the sky were falling to the Earth.” While none of the meteor showers this year are likely to reach rates as high as that, there are some spectacular ones later this year. See: Meteor Showers 2013 Dates and Times: Perseids, Geminids, Leonids, Eta Aquiriids, Orionids, Etc.
Some basic tips for watching:
– Get as comfortable as you can. A good reclining chair, warm clothes and blankets (or hot springs), and hot cocoa and coffee, are all helpful.
– The farther away from the city and other sources of light that you can get the better.
– Give your eyes time to adjust to the dark. And make sure to turn off/dim any bright electronic devices that you have on you.