Fireballs from the Lyrid meteor shower, which peaks late tonight and early Wednesday (April 21-22), were captured by several cameras with NASA's All-sky Fireball Network in the wee hours of this morning. A video of camera imagery shows Lyrid meteors as they lit up the predawn sky at sites across the country.
The Lyrid meteor shower occurs each year in April when the Earth passes through debris trail left by the Comet Thatcher (officially known as C/1861 G1 Thatcher). Records for the meteor shower date back more than 2,700 years, making it one of the oldest known meteor displays, NASA officials have said.
The videos were recorded by some of 17 different cameras at various locations across the U.S., with a cluster of six spread out across Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee and North Carolina, five in New Mexico and Arizona, and three-camera groups in the Ohio-Pennsylvania area and in Florida.
"A new moon this year will make way for good viewing of the Lyrids, leaving the sky dark," NASA officials said in a statement. "While rates of Lyrids per hour can be low, they are also known to produce bright fireballs, and this year we are expecting rates of up to 15 meteors per hour."
"This will actually be a good year for the Lyrids and it is exciting the peak is on Earth Day and in the middle of International Dark Sky Week," Bill Cooke, head of NASA's Meteoroid Environment Office at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, said in the same statement.
"While the Lyrids aren't as prolific as other meteor showers like the Perseids or Geminids, they usually do produce some bright fireballs," Cooke said. "Since the moon will be nearly invisible April 22, rates should be about as good as it gets for this shower."
The Lyrids will appear to radiate out from the constellation Lyra (hence their name).
"The Lyrids appear to come from the vicinity of one of the brightest stars in the night sky — Vega," NASA officials said in a statement. "Vega is one of the easiest stars to spot, even in light-polluted areas."
To find out how to observe the Lyrid meteor shower, read our guide here.
Editor's note: If you snap a great photo Lyrid meteor shower that you'd like to share for a possible story or image gallery, send photos, comments and your name and observing location to email@example.com.
- The most amazing Lyrid meteor shower photos of all time
- How to see the best meteor showers of 2020
- How meteor showers work (infographic)
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Tariq is the Editor-in-Chief of Space.com and joined the team in 2001, first as an intern and staff writer, and later as an editor. He covers human spaceflight, exploration and space science, as well as skywatching and entertainment. He became Space.com's Managing Editor in 2009 and Editor-in-Chief in 2019. Before joining Space.com, Tariq was a staff reporter for The Los Angeles Times covering education and city beats in La Habra, Fullerton and Huntington Beach. In October 2022, Tariq received the Harry Kolcum Award for excellence in space reporting from the National Space Club Florida Committee. He is also an Eagle Scout (yes, he has the Space Exploration merit badge) and went to Space Camp four times as a kid and a fifth time as an adult. He has journalism degrees from the University of Southern California and New York University. You can find Tariq at Space.com and as the co-host to the This Week In Space podcast with space historian Rod Pyle on the TWiT network. To see his latest project, you can follow Tariq on Twitter @tariqjmalik.