Lyrid Meteor Shower kicks off Dark Sky Week: This week on the Storyteller's Dark Sky

Apr 17, 2017

In this image from EarthSky.org, the radiant of the Lyrid Meteor Shower is shown, where it appears about 10 pm

The Lyrid Meteor Shower starts this week and comes to its peak overnight Saturday. What’s the best thing to know about it? It’s story, because if you find yourself under cloudy skies, you’ll still have something to marvel at!

The Lyrid Meteor Shower gets its name from the constellation Lyra, and it’s one of the oldest meteor showers on record, and one of the few associated with a long-period comet. This shower is also associated with fireballs, so if you do have clear skies, be on the lookout.

And here’s some story to go along with the show:

For the ancient Greeks, Lyra was known as the lyre of Orpheus, the stringed instrument that Orpheus used to charm and entrance. Orpheus was a favorite of the muses and beloved of Eurydice.

In parts of Bohemia and in the stories of ole Mother Goose, Lyra is the fiddle played by the cat, while the cow’s jumping over the Moon.

But the most dramatic imagination about Lyra is that it’s a harp, the instrument of angels. Now every year in April Lyra begins to rise up in the East, and as it rises, it sends these meteors and fireballs through the night. So think of it, the harp rising up in the East, the instrument of angels as though sending a fiery song through the sky. To me, this suggests the very well-known image from the Book of Genesis, which describes how God drove out Adam and Eve out of Eden, and placed the Cherubims at the East of that garden, with flaming swords that turn every way ~ to protect the tree of life. 

Lyra begins to rise in the northeast about 10 pm and is overhead by 4 am, and you can watch for the meteors every night this week, especially after midnight Saturday. And this year, these fiery messengers inaugurate International Dark Sky Week (April 22 to 28, and every year in Aprilduring the week around New Moon), which is all the more reason to get outside and cast your wishes to the stars.