If your pre-coronavirus life consisted of near-daily hikes, weekend camping trips, and any other excuse to spend an excessive amount of time outside, you’re probably having a tougher time in quarantine than us homebodies. Especially if you don’t have a backyard. But while trailheads, beaches, and national parks remain closed to the public, you can still enjoy the outdoors — so long as you’re keeping socially distant from others. In fact, you can do it tonight.
Pack some snacks, gather your housemates, bundle up, and take a drive out to a dark and secluded place away from the city to catch the Lyrid Meteor shower this very evening. From about 12 AM to 4 AM you can enjoy a meteor show that should produce about 15 meteors per hour, according to Earth Sky. It’s not exactly a jaw-dropping amount, but it’s a great excuse to take a long drive and get some fresh air, and it’s not like you have anything else to do tonight.
Tonight’s near new moon will also improve viewing conditions a great deal, as the shooting stars won’t have to compete with the bright light of the moon, so if you’re feeling lazy it is possible to catch some activity from the city, but the show won’t nearly be as brilliant. To best view the Lyrids, head to a dark area away from light pollution and look towards the southwest early in the night. As the hours approach dawn, turn your gaze directly overhead. The meteors will be emanating from the constellation Lyra, which, if you’re unfamiliar, looks kind of like a juice box. You’ll want to fix your gaze towards that general area to catch the most activity.
If you’re feeling creative, this is a great time to grab that camera and tripod and capture some time-lapses of the night’s sky show.