We’re halfway through April, but amateur astronomers and backyard sky gazers still have some spectacles to look forward to in the nighttime sky. Starting on the 16th of April, the annual Lyrid meteor shower began. Each year that meteor shower kicks off when the Earth travels through what remains of the tail of a comet called Thatcher.
The Thatcher comet only comes around once every 400 years, but it’s left the solar system with debris from its tail scattered across our orbit. When that debris hits the earth’s atmosphere, we see streaks of light in the sky, typically called shooting stars. The annual meteor shower happens between April 16 and April 25, with the peak occurring on April 22.
No matter what day you watch during that peak viewing range, the predawn hours are the best time to see shooting stars. The meteor shower gets its name because it occurs near the Lyra constellation, which can be found by locating the bright star Vega.