This month we are forecast for the return of the Lyrids meteor shower.

The shower gets its name from the apparent origin of the meteors, in this case, the constellation of Lyra. 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 difficult. In fact, if you’re in the north of WA, you have a far better chance of seeing meteors from the Lyrids. The 2023 Lyrids are forecast to produce about 20 meteors per hour (1 every 3 minutes). 

When to look: From midnight until early morning, 22nd and 23rd April

Which direction to look: Low to the north eastern and northern horizon.

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 are the result of 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 is a result of Earth passing through the debris left by Comet C/1896 G1 Thatcher.

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

During the Lyrids this year, the Moon will not be in the sky, meaning that it is the perfect time to view this meteor shower! Head out and rug up!

Something interesting

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

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! Download the Fireballs in the Sky App and keep your eyes peeled!

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!