There's A Huge Meteor Shower Happening Tonight

by Christina Marfice
Meteor shower pine trees
Kevin Key/Slworking/Getty

The annual Lyrids meteor shower is expected to peak tonight — here’s how to see as many shooting stars as possible

The Lyrids meteor shower happens around this time every year, but this year, with much of the country on coronavirus lockdown and light pollution lower than usual, there’s a unique opportunity to see even more shooting stars than you might see in other years. The shower lasts multiple days, but tonight should be the peak, when lucky viewers will have the opportunity to catch hundreds of shooting stars per minute. For those of us stuck in quarantine, this provides a free science lesson for the kids, plus a fun activity for the whole, stir-crazy family.

The Lyrids meteor shower is active every year from mid- to late-April, and shooting stars from the shower have already been visible for a few weeks. This year, the peak of the shower has already been occurring for a few days, but don’t worry — you still have time to catch it. The height of shooting star viewing will continue through Wednesday morning, which means your best odds are to stay up late tonight, or get up bright and early tomorrow to see the shower. According to the EarthSky guide for the shower, it doesn’t matter where you are on Earth. The best viewing for this shower is when the sky is fully dark, so choose a time between midnight and dawn.

The Lyrids meteor shower takes place near the constellation Lyra, which, for most of us in the U.S., will be in the East. Luckily, it won’t take any special astronomy knowledge to find the Lyrids — just look East and keep your eyes peeled. The number of visible shooting stars should make it easy to find the right place to be watching.

It won’t take any special equipment to be able to see this meteor shower, either — the shooting stars should be clearly visible to the naked eye, as long as you have a viewing spot that’s far enough away from light pollution for the sky to be totally dark. Just set out to find an area of open sky that’s away from bright lights, and set up a few lawn chairs or a blanket. Maybe bring some snacks, and plan to get cozy and stay awhile. Once this light show begins, you won’t want to miss any of it, no matter how late it gets.