Lyrid Meteor Shower 2013 Peak: Where and When to Watch

The Lyrids can be unpredictable -- often in great ways.


The Lyrid meteor shower is ready to make its 2013 debut in the skies above Fairfax next week, and of all the year’s many shows in the heavens, this is one to catch.

The skies have been largely empty of visible meteor showers since the Quadrantids of early January, but the shooting stars of the Lyrids have been a reliable spectacle for, oh, 2,600 years or so.

The Lyrids meteor shower peaks in 2013 on April 21 and 22, but some meteors may be visible beginning on April 16. You can see what to look for in this video of the Lyrid meteor shower. Or check out photos of the Lyrids. And these charts of the Lyrids may help you locate the shooting stars.The Lyrids tend to be bright and often leave trails and tend to peak at about 10-20 meteors per hour. One of the unpredictable aspects of this shower, though, is that it’s known for uncommon surges that sometimes result in up to 100 shooting starts per hour.

Virginia has some history with the Lyrids. Back in 1803, a journalist in Virginia observed one of those surges and wrote that the outburst, “...alarmed many and astonished every person that beheld it. From 1 in the morning until 3 in the morning, those starry meteors seemed to fall from every point in the heavens, in such numbers to resemble a sower of sky rockets...”

A downside certainly exists this year - the moon will be bright until a couple of hours before dawn. Still, the greatest number of shooting stars tend to come after the moon departs anyway, so the show could still make getting up early worth it.

Let’s just hope the clouds cooperate. As of now, the April 16 forecast for Fairfax calls for partly cloudy skies, a high of 78 degrees, and a 10 percent chance of rain.

PATCH WANTS TO KNOW - Where do you think is the best spot in Fairfax City to try and spot a meteor shower like this one? Tell us in the comments below.


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