Between the months of January and March, leading up to April, there’s not a lot of meteor shower activity. With the exception of the the Quadrantids, which occurs in the month of January, there’s just not much else to watch. However as soon as April opens her doors, things start to heat up.
The Lyrids Meteor Shower peaks in the month of April – setting the stage for the entrance of the prime annual meteor showers of 2013. The Lyrids has its major meteor activity after midnight, in the early morning hours of April 22.
Following on from the Lyrids is a minor meteor shower called the Pi-Puppids. This meteor shower peaks on April 23. However its activity won’t be stellar as a major shower or as energetic, due to its weak stream. In early May, another meteor shower worth looking out for is the eta-Aquariids. It has its peak in the early morning hours on May 6.
April has a much better climate for individuals within the Northern Hemisphere, so it’s a great time to get fired up for the meteor viewing season. The warmer weather makes for a more comfortable viewing experience, with more chances to see more meteors.
What About the Lyrids Meteor Shower?
The Lyrids Meteor Shower may be the earliest recorded meteor shower, found in referenced documentation throughout the Chou Empire time period, around 687 AD. It was documented when a Chinese onlooker wrote in a journal, “at night, fixed stars are invisible, at midnight, stars dropped down like rain”.
The Lyrids takes its title from the glowing stars that form the constellation Lyra. The constellation Lyra is named after an old stringed device – much like the harp.
What exactly is the source of this meteor shower?
Sometime in 1861, novice astronomer as well as teacher, A.E. Thatcher found the comet that produces the meteoroid stream for the Lyrids. Like most comet discoverers, they get to decide the name. In this case it was named, Comet Thatcher – after its discoverer.
The Thatcher Comet orbits the Sun every 415 years. It’s due to be visible from Earth again in 2276. The crux of meteor shower activity for most meteor showers lies in the streams of dust that follow the comet’s orbit. So, every year in April Earth passes through the path of this comet, resulting in a spectacular celestial display called the Lyrids Meteor Shower.
When Do You Look?
No matter where you are in the world, the best time to view a meteor shower is after midnight. So for this one, I said the peak is April 22. This means that on the night of April 21. it will start to build strength. After midnight it should start to get stronger, until the early morning hours. You may want to look at a more detailed explanation of “midnight” in my meteor viewing page on the site.
Do You Wish Upon a Falling Star?
The peak of the Lyrids Meteor Shower falls on the same day as Earth Day. So make a wish for planet Earth and enjoy watching this meteor shower. Keep in mind some much better meteor showers are set to be arriving soon!
April Meteor Shower Schedule
π-Puppids Meteor Shower
Start Date: April 15
Peak Date: April 23
End Date: April 28
η-Aquarids Meteor Shower
Start Date: April 19
Peak Date: May 6
End Date: May 28