Lyrid meteor shower peaks tonight

     JSHN contributor Rob Loffredo snapped this photo during the Perseid meteor shower in August 2015.

    JSHN contributor Rob Loffredo snapped this photo during the Perseid meteor shower in August 2015.

    It’s once again time for the peak of the Lyrid meteor shower.

    The celestial show typically dazzles night owl sky gazers, but unlike the prolific Perseids in August, patience is a prerequisite for viewing.

    “The Lyrids are really unpredictable,” says Bill Cooke, the head of NASA’s Meteoroid Environment Office.

    Astronomers predict up to 20 meteors an hour late Friday into Saturday morning in dark sky areas with clear skies. In other years, the Lyrids produced up to 100 meteors an hour.

    The best time for viewing is a few hours before dawn. But with NOAA calling for mostly cloudy skies, conditions will not be optimal in the New Jersey area.

    The meteors will originate high in the sky at the radiant point but will be visible in all directions.

    According to NASA, no special equipment is needed to watch a meteor shower. Simply find a dark, open sky away from artificial lights. Lie down comfortably on a blanket or lawn chair, and look straight up.

    Lyrid activity continues until April 25.

    With records dating back to around 2,700 years, the Lyrid is among the oldest of known meteor showers, according to earthsky.org.

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