There’s never a bad time to gaze at the stars with your kids, but tonight is a particularly great opportunity to bond over the cosmos. That’s because the Lyrid meteor shower will begin to shower over our skies on Sunday, April 19. The shower, which lasts a few days, will likely peak in the pre-dawn hours of Wednesday, April 22, but we understand if you don’t want to get your kids up at 4 a.m. to look at the sky. The Lyrid meteor shower is important because it marks the end of a meteor shower ‘drought’ of sorts — there are no major meteor showers from January to April.
According to NASA, the Lyrids are one of the oldest known meteor showers, first documented by the Chinese in the seventh century BC. They’re also one of the most interesting to watch, with particularly fast and bright meteors that frequently leave trails of glowing dust behind them as they travel through Earth’s atmosphere.
Lyrids generally come at a 10-20 per hour pace but have been known to reach a frequency of up to 100 per hour.
Meteor showers occur when the Earth’s atmosphere passes through and disintegrate debris trails left behind by broken asteroids, creating a dramatic light show in the process.
The best view of the show will come in the Northern Hemisphere after the moon sets but before dawn (the darkest hours of the night). Their ‘rising time’ will be around 9 to 10 p.m. EST, but the shower will be visible until dawn, and some experts suggest that the late night time hours might be a great time to look for meteors. In fact, late at night might be the best time to catch an ‘earth-grazer‘, a slow-moving, and long-lasting meteor that travels horizontally across the sky.
NASA recommends lying down on the ground with your feet facing east and waiting half an hour for your eyes to adjust. At that point, you’ll start to see meteors, a space show that will last until dawn when it becomes too bright to make them out.
And if you can’t make it out on Sunday night, don’t worry. You’ll still be able to see the shower over the next few evenings, though likely not with the same frequency as tonight. Plus, if you really want, go ahead and wake those kids up in the pre-dawn hours on April 22. Time isn’t real anymore. It doesn’t matter!
And while your kid might go to school sleepy in the morning, remember that school is at the kitchen table, all they have to do is log onto Google Classroom, and you’ll have done something educational and fun that your kid will remember for a long time. Sounds like pretty responsible parenting to us.