The annual Lyrid meteor shower peaks this weekend! The peak of this meteor shower is short and brief and will focus on Saturday night and Sunday morning. For our area, the greatest number of meteors to fall during the few hours before dawn on Sunday.
The Lyrid meteor shower has the distinction of being among the oldest of known meteor showers. Records of this shower go back for some 2,700 years and is believed to be first discovered by the Chinese.
The source of the Lyrid meteors is from Comet Thatcher. Every year, in late April, our planet Earth crosses the orbital path of this comet. The remnants shed by this comets orbit bombard and race across the Earth's upper atmosphere at 110,000 miles per hour! The vaporizing debris streaks the nighttime with medium-fast Lyrid meteors.
The expectation will be for 10-20 meteors per hour at the peak just before dawn on Sunday morning. If you happen to see a few shooting start, some may have a streak known as a "persistent train" for a second after the meteor streak. About one quarter of Lyrid meteors leave a streak such as this. This is caused by ionized gas trail that creates the brief glow.