The Lyrid meteor shower is already underway, with its peak due on Monday and Tuesday, but here's a tip: Get outside Sunday and look to the skies over Ashburn for what could be your best view of this year's show.
The weather forecast on either side of Monday calls for cloudy skies, but Sunday it's supposed to be clear up above, and that's your best chance at catching the falling stars.
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 April 21 and 22, but some meteors have been visible, at least in theory, since April 16. You can see what to look for in this video of the Lyrid meteor shower. Or check out photos of the Lyrids. And these charts of the Lyrids may help you locate the shooting stars.
County parks technically close at dark, but these suggestions are within communities and offer clear views of the sky. Check park hours before entering:
- Bles Park
- Lyndora Park
- Beth Miller Park
- Ray Muth Sr. Memorial Park
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.
Virginia has some history with the Lyrids. Back in 1803, a journalist in Virginia observed one of those surges and wrote that the outburst, “...alarmed many and astonished every person that beheld it. From 1 in the morning until 3 in the morning, those starry meteors seemed to fall from every point in the heavens, in such numbers to resemble a sower of sky rockets...”
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.