Earth is about to pass through the dusty tail of Comet Thatcher, and this will cause the annual Lyrid meteor shower. Forecasters expect the shower to peak on April 22nd, producing about 10 meteors per hour–modest, but pretty. The best time to look is during the hours before sunrise on Saturday morning. Go to a dark site away from city lights, if possible.
The Moon will also encounter the comet’s tail on April 22nd, which raises an interesting possibility: Amateur astronomers may be able to spot flashes of light on the Moon when comet debris hits the lunar surface and explodes. All that’s required is a backyard telescope and lots of patience.
Visit Spaceweather.com for details, sky maps and observing tips.
Note: This is a Northern Hemisphere shower. South of the equator, observers will see very few Lyrids. Southerners are, however, in an excellent position to observe Lyrid impacts on the Moon. The Moon rises high in southern skies on April 22nd, in plain view of backyard telescopes.