If you’re up late this weekend, you might catch a glimpse of some shooting stars.
The Earth is now passing through the debris field left behind by an ancient comet, which creates the spectacle of meteor showers.
The Lyrids are a medium-strength meteor shower that will peak this weekend, according to the American Meteor Society.
“These meteors … can produce fireballs,” according to the society.
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Sometimes, light from a full moon can effectively visually drown out the meteor showers. But that shouldn’t be a problem with the Lyrids shower, according to a NASA blog post.
“Since the moon will be nearly to its new-moon phase, expect excellent moon-less viewing conditions this year,” wrote Jane Houston Jones from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
Lake Afton Public Observatory director Harold Henderson said the Lyrids aren’t as noteworthy as major showers like the Perseids in August.
“It’s not normally a very strong meteor shower; we’re talking 10 or 12 (meteors) per hour,” Henderson said.
But he said the Lyrids will be better this year since the meteor shower will “finally” peak on nights without the moon getting in the way.
“If the clouds don’t get in the way, it should be a good opportunity,” he said. “We’re more likely to see meteors as soon as it gets good and dark.”
Henderson said the Lyrids, like most showers, are best observed deeper into the night and away from city lights.
“As the observer transitions to the forward-facing side of the Earth, you’ll see more,” he said.
The observatory will be open 8:30 to 10:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. The observatory’s current programming is focused on Jupiter, NASA’s Juno Spacecraft and the Cassini mission to Saturn.
But you can go to the observatory’s grounds, just north of Lake Afton, after it closes to enjoy some dark sky close to Wichita.