In Our Skies, March 2021, Lyrid Meteor Shower

by Shaphan Shank | Mar 30, 2021 | 0 comments

As long as the sky is clear, there’s rarely a bad time to be out under the stars. A telescope or even a binocular can reveal scores of galaxies, nebulas, and star clusters, if you know just where to look*. This year is as good as any other year for observing these types of objects.

However, this year has started off rather slowly for astronomical phenomena such as comets and conjunctions. One of the first good conjunctions of the year will take place shortly before sunrise on March 5. On this morning, Jupiter and Mercury will pass less than 0.4° from each other. To see the pair, look low in the southeast just before sunrise.

The Lyrid meteor shower will peak on April 22. This shower produces peak rates of 15–20 meteors per hour. The Moon will be a little past first quarter on the peak night of the shower, so it will not set until after midnight. The best time to view the Lyrids will be between moonset and sunrise on the morning of the 22nd. Not only will this be the darkest part of the night, but it is also the time of the highest Lyrid meteor activity.

(Editor’s note: Shaphan’s book Exploring Our Skies teaches where to look, as does his monthly column in the Study Guide. 1-540-867-0764)

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