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Where to view the Lyrid Meteor Shower in San Diego

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The annual Lyrid meteor shower is right around the corner so here is what you need to know to witness this dazzling celestial event.

What is a meteor shower?

These events are caused by streams of cosmic debris called meteoroids that are hurtling through Earth’s atmosphere at extremely high speeds. According to the Meteor Data Center, there are some 900 meteor showers every year, with about 100 of them being very-well established providing the best activity and viewing conditions.

The Lyrid meteor shower

Known for being a medium strength meteor shower, the Lyrids will often provide good rates of activity. Though you probably won’t see what’s called “trains” of falling meteors, the Lyrids are known for sometimes producing fireballs in the sky, which sounds positively awesome. The Lyrid meteor shower is one of the oldest, occurring when Earth crosses path with the Comet Thatcher and pieces of it are hurtled into Earth’s atmosphere.

Records show that the Lyrid meteor shower has been observed for millenia, dating back to 687 B.C. In 1861, amateur astronomer A.E. Thatcher discovered that the meteor shower was the result of a massive comet orbiting too close to Earth.

How to see it

The Lyrids will reach the maximum rate of activity on the night of April 21-22, with the moon being 92% full on this night. With it being so close to a full moon, it will limit your view of the shower, though you’ll still be able to see a considerable amount of activity. The radiant of a meteor shower is the celestial point in the sky which the path of the meteors originates. For most of San Diego, this radiant will appear 25 to 32 degrees over the eastern horizon.  To see the most meteors, it is recommended you observe a dark patch of the sky 30 to 40 degrees away from the radiant. Try to avoid areas with heavy light pollution, as this could reduce visibility of the shower.

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