The Lyrids Meteor Shower is known for its fast and bright meteors, with occasional fireballs. Unfortunately, the bright Moon will make it difficult to view the Lyrids this year. 

Meteor showers are named after the constellation where the “shooting stars” appear to be coming from. In the case of the Lyrids, the meteors come from the direction of the constellation of Lyra. If you have a handy smartphone app that helps you identify objects in the night sky, search for Lyra, and you’ll be looking in the right location.

Lyra is under the horizon for most of the night and low to the horizon for the remainder. This means that the meteors are also very low to the horizon, which makes viewing them difficult. If you’re in the north of WA, you have a far better chance of seeing meteors from the Lyrids. The Lyrids are forecast to produce up to 18 meteors per hour with rare surges.

When and where to look:

From midnight until early morning, 22nd and 23rd April. Low to the north eastern and northern horizon.

What’s the Moon phase, and how will it affect viewing?

Unfortunately, the Moon will be close to full brightness when the Lyrids meteor shower is at its peak, so you’re unlikely to see many.

Do I Need a Telescope to see a Meteor Shower?

You don’t need a telescope or binoculars to see a meteor shower. It’s a great time to gather with friends, roll out your favourite picnic rug, pack the drinks and snacks, and start counting how many “shooting stars” you all see!

It’s best to view a meteor shower under a dark night sky. Most meteors will be quite faint so darker surroundings will make it easier to see them. You might consider heading out to a dark sky location at one of WA’s Astrotourism Towns. If you’re an astrophotographer, it is an excellent opportunity to image meteors over some of WA’s iconic landscapes. Where are WA’s Astrotourism Towns? Fingers crossed for a spectacular show!

What is a meteor shower?

Meteors are caused by debris entering Earth’s atmosphere. The debris can be as small as a grain of sand which burns up in the atmosphere and causes a bright streak of light to appear briefly in our night sky. The debris that causes a meteor can be travelling between 11 to 73 km/second.

A meteor shower is a time when you see lots of “shooting stars”. They result from Earth passing through the trail of debris left by a comet or other object that has come into our Solar System and orbited around the Sun.

The Lyrids Meteor Shower results from Earth passing through the debris of Comet C/1896 G1 Thatcher.

 

Something interesting

Image shows Neilloan, the Mallee fowl, which is based around Vega, the fifth brightest star in the night sky. Neilloan is far to the north.
Image credit: John Morieson ‘Stars over Tyrell: The Case Study of the Boorong

Observed for at least 2,600 years, the Lyrids are the longest observed meteor shower. For the Boorong clan of north-western Victoria, the constellation of Lyra was the ancestral Malleefowl, Neilloan, and she taught people when to look for Malleefowl eggs. The Lyrids meteor shower coincides with the time the Malleefowl start to build their elaborate nests, with the streaks of the meteor shower itself resembling a bird kicking up sand as she builds a nest.

More reading:

The International Meteor Organization is a great place to discover more about all things meteors. Check out their Meteor Shower Calendar. You might even like to become a member!

You might like to…

Become a citizen scientist and report meteor sightings! If you happen to see a very bright meteor (often referred to as a “fireball”), WA’s Fireballs in the Sky team based at Curtin University would love to know! Report your fireball sighting with the International Meteor Organization.

Where's the Best Place to see a Meteor Shower?

You need a good dark night sky for the best view! Choose an Astrotourism Town destination. Happy meteor hunting!