The Lyrid meteor shower is ready to make its 2013 debut in the skies above Joliet Tuesday, and of all the year’s many shows in the heavens, this is one to catch -- if the weather cooperates.
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 may be visible beginning on 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.The Lyrids tend to be bright and often leave trails and tend to peak at about 10 to 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 starts per hour.
The Lyrids, named for their location in the constellation Lyra, are the debris of Comet Thatcher tail when Earth's path crosses through it, according to Mark Paquette, of accuweather.com.
"It is unpredictable. Sometimes lyrids have 'surges' which can break up the rate to near 100 per hour," said Paquette, speaking in a release on the event.
"Lyrid meteors are typically as bright as the stars in the Big Dipper, which is to say, middling brightness, but some are more intense, even brighter than Venus."
The one big impediment to viewing, however, is going to be the weather. The potential for overnight rain is running anywhere from 40 percent to 80 percent nightly, according to the forecast from the National Weather Service, which is based in Romeoville.
Patch editor Todd Richissin contributed to this article.
PATCH WANTS TO KNOW - Where do you think is the best spot in Romeoville to try and spot a meteor shower like this one? Tell us in the comments below.