The Lyrid meteor shower peaks at 11 am on Thursday, April 22nd, 2010. The best time to view meteors would be during the overnight hours of April 21st-22nd. As with all meteor showers, the best time to observe is during the pre-dawn hours, when your particular location on Earth is turning into the meteor stream.
The name ‘Lyrid’ comes from the constellation Lyra, the Lyre or ‘harp.’ If you watch Lyrid meteors and trace the familiar streaks of light backward, you will find that the meteors tend to originate from near the constellation of Lyra. This is known as the ‘radiant‘ of the shower.
Meteor showers are caused by the Earth passing through the debris field left behind a comet. As a comet approaches and passes the Sun it will leave behind a stream of dust and rock. If the comet’s orbit happens to cross Earth’s orbit, we will see an increase in meteor activity as we pass through the cometary orbit. The Lyrids are the result of comet Thatcher, which has a period of 415 years. We won’t see Thatcher round the Sun for another 200 years.
Meteors can be seen across the sky. No need for binoculars or a telescope. Just watch from a comfortable position with a clear view of as much of the sky as possible.