The Lyrid meteors – April’s “shooting stars” – tend to be bright and often leave trails. About 10-20 meteors per hour at peak can be expected. Plus, the Lyrids are known for uncommon surges that can sometimes bring the rate up to 100 per hour. Those rare outbursts are not easy to predict, but they’re one of the reasons the tantalizing Lyrids are worth checking out.
The radiant for this shower is in the constellation Lyra, which rises in the northeast at about 10 p.m. Fortunately, in 2012, the new moon guarantees a dark sky in the late night and morning hours, the best time to watch the Lyrid shower. As a general rule, the greatest number of Lyrid meteors fall in the dark hours before dawn.
The optimal night will probably be from late night April 21 until dawn April 22, though the night before or after (April 21/22 and April 22/23) may also offer a sprinkling of Lyrid meteors. With no moon to obscure this year’s display, we are assured of dark skies for the 2012 Lyrid meteor shower!