Home Science How to spot Lyrids, Eta Aquarid meteor showers over Arizona

How to spot Lyrids, Eta Aquarid meteor showers over Arizona


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Here are five ways to view a meteor shower or other celestial event near you.
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The Lyrids meteor shower peaks Sunday, April 22, into Monday, April 23.

Skywatchers are in for a double treat with a pair of meteor showers happening within two weeks of each other. 

First up is the Lyrids meteor shower, which peaks Sunday into Monday. 

The Lyrids produce about 15 to 20 meteors per hour. You won’t be able to spot every meteor, however, especially if you live in the city where bright lights obscure the fainter shooting stars. So you’ll need to be patient.  

The Lyrids don’t produce as many meteors per hour as the Perseids shower in August or the Geminids shower in December, said Adam Block, an astronomer with the University of Arizona’s Steward Observatory. But mild temperatures this time of year make it easier to stay outside for longer periods. 

The best time to see shower activity will be the hour before dawn because that’s when the radiant — the point from which the meteors appear to originate — is highest in the sky, according to the American Meteor Society. 

The Lyrids meteor shower is followed by the Eta Aquarid shower, which peaks the evening of  May 6 — a Sunday — into the morning of May 7. This annual shower happens when the Earth passes through debris left over from the famous Halley’s comet.

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The Eta Aquarid shower isn’t expected to produce as many visible meteors over the Arizona skies as the Lyrids. So if you’re able to make it outside for only one of the meteor showers, the best is the Lyrids. 

 Here are some tips from local astronomers to help you spot meteors: 

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Perseid meteor shower timelapse viewed from all over Phoenix. Video credit: David Kadlubowski/azcentral.com

How to see the most meteors

When to view: The best time is the morning before dawn but before it starts to get light. The peak is when you can expect to see the most meteors, but shower activity will increase in the days surrounding the peak, too.

Where to look: All over the sky. 

How to view: The darker the skies, the more meteors you will see, said Patrick Young, an associate professor with Arizona State University’s School of Earth and Space Exploration

Get away from city lights, if possible. If you can’t get out of the city, move away from street lights or house lights. 

Lie down on the ground to see the whole sky, he said. 

You don’t need binoculars or a telescope to spot meteors and using these visual aids can actually prevent you from seeing the most meteors because you’re focused on only one part of the sky. 

Finally, relax and be patient. Plan to spend at least 30 minutes outside, Young said. 

Reach the reporter at 602-444-8072 or anne.ryman@arizonarepublic.com. Follow her on Twitter at @anneryman

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