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Lyrid Meteor Shower Happening This Week

Last updated on Tuesday, April 23, 2013

(UNDATED) - AccuWeather.com meteorologists continue to monitor sky for the viewing possibilities of the Lyrids, the first major meteor shower since early January.

The shower will be visible through Friday. While the Lyrids average 10 to 20 meteors an hour, AccuWeather's Mark Paquette says there is potential for significantly more.

Paquette says, sometimes Lyrids have 'surges' which can break up the rate to near 100 per hour."

Paquette explained that the Lyrids, named for their location in the constellation Lyra, are the debris of Comet Thatcher tail when Earth's path crosses through it. The meteors are bits of the tail's comet, usually no bigger than grains of sand strike the atmosphere at 49 kilometers a second. As they travel through our atmosphere, they disintegrate as streaks of light, possibly casting a shadow before leaving behind smoke-like trail of debris.

Lyrid meteors are typically as bright as the stars in the Big Dipper, but some are more intense, even brighter than Venus, Paquette says.

The "Lyrid fireballs" originate in the sky near the star Vega, Lyra's brightest star. Predawn hours offer the best view of the meteors as Vega sits nearly overhead. In the evenings the shower sits closer to the horizon, blocking many of them from view. The waxing moon will also light up the sky until after midnight, dimming the sight of the meteors. However, the moon sets before dawn, so its brightness will not hinder the view of the shower when it moves into its peak positional hours.

Be sure to check back for updated conditions, as well as for the conditions of other days as the meteor shower's timeline progresses. For more updates, like us on Facebook at AccuWeather.com Astronomy.

Meteorologist Steve Travis contributed to this article.

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