Lyrid meteor shower about to peak, but poor conditions expected for many Canadian viewers
TORONTO -- If you're lucky, you might be able to catch a glimpse of a meteor shower Wednesday night, as astronomers say the Lyrid meteor shower is expected to reach its annual peak.
According to the American Meteor Society, the Lyrids are active between April 16 to 30 this year. At their peak on Wednesday night, which is expected to last for a few hours, stargazers will see around 10 meteors per hour, with the normal rate of the shower being five an hour.
The American Meteor Society says the Lyrid meteor shower consists of particles shed from the 1861 G1 Thatcher comet, which comes through our solar system every 415 years and was last seen in 1861. Occasionally, the Lyrids may produce fireballs.
But the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada (RASC) warns that moonlight from the first quarter moon, which is expected to be 68 per cent full, may pose a challenge for Canadians wishing to see the meteor shower. For most Canadians, the moon won't set until well past 3 a.m., which means there will only be a around a one-hour window to properly see the Lyrids before twilight.
"It's just not good timing for this year," the RASC says.
Clouds may pose another challenge for meteor watchers, depending on the location. Environment Canada's cloud cover map shows clear skies in much of Newfoundland, Manitoba, British Columbia, parts of Saskatchewan and parts of northern and southwestern Ontario at around 3 a.m. local time in each region. But in the Toronto region, eastern Ontario, the Maritimes and much of Quebec and Alberta, stargazers will see at least some cloudy periods.
If you miss the Lyrids, you'll have chance to catch the Aquariids meteor shower on May 4. The RASC expects this to be the be the better of the two showers, as the moon will only be 38 per cent illuminated and won't rise until 4 a.m.