The Lyrids, the first major meteor shower since early January, will be visible from April 16 - 26, peaking during the predawn hours of Sunday, April 21, and Monday, April 22. While the Lyrids average 10 to 20 meteors an hour, there is potential for significantly more.
The Lyrids are named for their location in the constellation Lyra and are caused by Comet Thatcher when Earth's path crosses through its tail. The meteors are flakes of the tail's comet dust, usually no bigger than grains of sand, that strike the atmosphere.
The "Lyrid fireballs" originate in the sky near the star Vega, Lyra's brightest star. Predawn hours offer the best view of the meteors as Vega sits nearly overhead.
In the evenings the shower sits closer to the horizon, blocking many of them from view. The waxing moon will also light up the sky until after midnight, dimming the sight of the meteors. However, the moon sets before dawn, so its brightness will not hinder the view of the shower when it moves into its peak positional hours.