The Lyrid meteor shower is ready to make its 2013 debut in the skies above Fredericksburg this weekend, and of all the year’s many shows in the heavens, this is one to catch.
The skies have been largely empty of visible meteor showers since the Quadrantids of early January, but the shooting stars of the Lyrids have been a reliable spectacle for, oh, 2,600 years or so.
The Lyrids meteor shower peaks in 2013 on Sunday and Monday, but some meteors may be visible beginning sooner. The National Weather Service forecast for Sunday and Monday is for partly cloudy skies.
The Lyrids tend to be bright and often leave trails and tend to peak at about 10-20 meteors per hour. One of the unpredictable aspects of this shower, though, is that it’s known for uncommon surges that sometimes result in up to 100 shooting stars per hour.
Virginia has some history with the Lyrids. Back in 1803, a journalist in Virginia observed one of those surges and wrote that the outburst, “...alarmed many and astonished every person that beheld it. From 1 in the morning until 3 in the morning, those starry meteors seemed to fall from every point in the heavens, in such numbers to resemble a shower of sky rockets...”
A downside certainly exists this year: The moon will be bright until a couple of hours before dawn. Still, the greatest number of shooting stars tend to come after the moon departs anyway, so the show could still make getting up early worth it.
From where in the area do you sky watch? Tell us in the comments section below.
Find Fredericksburg Patch via:
Leonid Meteor Shower 2012: Viewing Tips (November 2012)
Orionids Meteor Shower 2012: Where to Watch in Fredericksburg (October 2012)
Perseids Meteor Shower Viewing Peaks This Weekend (August 2012)