The Lyrid meteor shower is ready to make its 2013 debut in the skies above Iowa City this weekend, and of all the year’s many shows in the heavens, this is one to catch.
The skies have been largely empty of visible meteor showers since the Quadrantids of early January, but the shooting stars of the Lyrids have been a reliable spectacle for, oh, 2,600 years or so.
The Lyrids meteor shower peaks in 2013 on Sunday and Monday, but some meteors may be visible beginning sooner. The National Weather Service forecast for Saturday is for clear skies, so then may be your best chance at catching a glimpse.
The Lyrids tend to be bright and often leave trails and tend to peak at about 10-20 meteors per hour. One of the unpredictable aspects of this shower, though, is that it’s known for uncommon surges that sometimes result in up to 100 shooting stars per hour.
For local astronomy watching options, check out the Iowa City Astronomy Club. In past events the group has met to observe together in Wetherby Park on Taylor Drive. Amateur astronomers can also make their way to the observatory at Palisades State Park.
A downside certainly exists this year: The moon will be bright until a couple of hours before dawn. Still, the greatest number of shooting stars tend to come after the moon departs anyway, so the show could still make getting up early worth it.
From where in the area do you sky watch? Tell us in the comments section below.