What Time to See Lyrid Meteor Shower 2021 that Peaks on April 22

The Lyrid meteor shower will be active in the night sky later this month, with activity peaking between April 21 and 22.

In what is believed to be one of the oldest known showers, the meteors are bright and fast-moving debris that can potentially be seen from April 16 to April 30, with forecasts suggesting there will be 18 meteors per hour this year.

The Lyrids are a medium-strength shower that "usually lack persistent trains but can produce fireballs," according to The American Meteor Society, which notes they are best seen from the northern hemisphere after moonset but before dawn.

While their glowing dust trains are not always persistent in the night sky, the Lyrids are often visible for several seconds at a time, according to NASA.

Experts say that the best time to see the Lyrid shower is in the morning of the peak day, which this year would be the very early hours of April 22.

Skygazers are advised to wait until after midnight on April 21 and look in the direction of what is known as the radiant point—the section of the sky where they typically originate. The Lyrid shower radiant is the constellation of Lyra, which will rise to the east.

NASA said that it's best to look for Lyrids just away from their radiant, as they will appear "longer and more spectacular from this perspective." Experts said it's best not to wait too long, as there is less chance to see them the brighter it gets.

As Royal Museums Greenwich noted: "The later in the morning you wait, the higher the radiant will rise and the fewer meteors will be hidden below the horizon. The closer you get to sunrise the brighter the sky is going to become, so plan accordingly!"

An interactive sky map detailing when and where the Lyrid meteor shower will be visible every day is being maintained by Timeanddate.com. It is updated daily.

The London-based Royal Museums Greenwich, home to the Royal Observatory, noted that 2021's peak day coincides with a gibbous moon, which is when the moon is more than half-lighted but not completely full. Between April 21 and 22, the moon will be 68 percent full, according to the American Meteor Society.

As watchers will be faced with the stray moonlight, it is advisable to stay as far from city lights and give your eyes time, at least 30 minutes, to get accustomed to the dark.

NASA meteor expert Bill Cooke told Space.com this week that while peak viewing time is before dawn, Lyrids could be visible on April 21 after 10:30 p.m.

"Get up early before dawn, after the moon has set. You have a pretty good chance," he said.

The meteors consist of debris that are hitting Earth's atmosphere from a comet known as Thatcher, which was first observed in April 1861. The first recorded sighting of a Lyrid meteor shower is believed to date back to 687 BC.

Lyrid meteor shower
The lyric meteor shower is seen in the sky on April 22, 2020 in Schermbeck, Germany. Mario Hommes/DeFodi Images/Getty Images