One of the oldest-known meteor showers can be seen near Tri-Cities right now. What to know

It’s been nearly two weeks since the solar eclipse provided Americans with one type of celestial event, but don’t stop looking at the skies yet — another event is on the way.

Fortunately, this celestial event doesn’t require glasses and is viewable over multiple days: the Lyrid meteor shower.

Even better, while this month’s solar eclipse was only a partial eclipse in the Evergreen State, Washingtonians will be able to watch the Lyrids in their full glory.

Here’s what to know about the Lyrid meteor shower and when to catch it.

What is the Lyrid meteor shower?

The Lyrid meteor shower is one of the oldest-known meteor showers, according to NASA. The Chinese first observed it in 687 BC, meaning humans have been aware of it for about 2,700 years.

The meteors in this shower are known to be fast and bright, with generally about 10-20 viewable per hour.

They originate from Comet Thatcher, a comet that orbits around the sun every 415.5 years, according to NASA. Every year, the Earth passes through the debris trail left behind by Comet Thatcher, causing bits of debris to collide with our atmosphere and appear as bright flashes in the sky.

The shower’s radiant—where the meteors appear to come from in the night sky—is near the constellation Lyra, which is why the shower’s name is derived from it. Lyra is a smaller constellation but can easily be found by looking for the star Vega, the fifth-brightest star in our sky and the second brightest in the Northern Hemisphere.

The easiest way to find Vega is to look directly overhead, according to EarthSky, and to locate the brightest star closest to the zenith, which is the spot right above you. Vega rises above the horizon at around 9:45 p.m., which is when you’ll start being able to see the meteor shower, but chances to see a meteor will increase into the morning hours.

NASA recommends looking for the meteors slightly away from the zenith. This is because the meteors spotted around the zenith will be short-lived, while meteors further away typically last longer and look more spectacular.

When are the Lyrids viewable?

The Lyrid meteor shower is viewable from April 15 to 29, according to NASA, meaning they started shooting across the sky in the early hours of Monday morning. It will continue through next week until Monday, April 29.

The best time to spot the Lyrids is shortly before midnight and through the early morning hours. While the meteor shower usually only produces 10-20 meteors per hour, some years have been particularly active and treated stargazers to up to 100 meteors per hour at its peak.

The meteor shower will peak in the early hours of April 23. Unfortunately, that also coincides with a nearly full moon, with about 96% of the moon illuminated, according to Time and Date. This means more light pollution and a less likely chance of viewing meteors.

Where can you watch the meteors near Tri-Cities?

The website Light Pollution Map shows where exactly you can escape light pollution, but here are some other options close to Tri-Cities:

  • On top of Badger or Candy Mountains

  • Jump Off Joe Butte, just south of Tri-Cities

  • Around the Top of the World park in Richland

The next chance to watch a significant meteor shower in Tri-Cities will be the Perseids from July 14 to Sept. 1, with the peak coming Aug. 11-12.