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Lyrid fireballs to glow across sky during Friday night peak of annual meteor shower

By Brian Lada, AccuWeather meteorologist and staff writer
April 21, 2017, 2:19:13 AM EDT

The first meteor shower since January will be visible for much of the nation on Friday night as the Lyrid meteor shower reaches its peak.

This will be an excellent year for viewing the Lyrids as the peak falls just a few days before the new moon, thus light from the moon will not interfere much with viewing conditions.

AP meteor shower

A Perseid meteor streaks across the sky during the Perseid meteor shower on Tuesday, Aug. 11, 2009 in Vinton, Calif. (AP Photo/Kevin Clifford)

Up to 20 meteors an hour may be seen on the night of April 21 into the morning of April 22 in areas with a clear sky and low light pollution.

The Lyrids can occasionally produce as many as 100 meteors an hour, but an outburst like this is not expected this year.

“These meteors usually lack persistent trains but can produce fireballs,“ the American Meteor Society said.

Fireballs are meteors that become extremely bright as they burn up entering the Earth’s atmosphere and can light up the entire sky for a few brief seconds.

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The best time to view the Lyrids will be after midnight as the radiant point, or the point where the meteors originate, begins to climb high in the sky.

Despite the meteors originating from the same point, they will appear in all areas of the sky as they streak away from the point in all directions.

Because of this, onlookers just need to simply look up at the open sky and wait for a meteor to appear without having to focus on a single point.

Lyrid viewing april 20

The best viewing conditions on Friday night will be across the western United States and western Great Lakes where clear skies will lead to uninterrupted viewing conditions.

Meanwhile, clouds will lead to poor viewing conditions for much of the East Coast, central Plains and Rocky Mountains.

Friday night’s Lyrid meteor shower may be the best meteor shower for the Northern Hemisphere until the peak of the Orionid meteor shower in late October.

While there are several meteor showers between April and October, the peaks of the showers that fall in this time all occur within a few days of the full moon.

The light from the nearly full moon makes it difficult to spot many of the dimmer meteors, reducing the number of meteors that onlookers can spot.

Questions or comments? Email Brian Lada at and be sure to follow him on Twitter!

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