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Weather forecasting and analysis, space and historic events, climate information

12:15 PM | Lyrid meteor shower peaks this weekend; Update on the NASA Wallops Island rocket launch

Paul Dorian


Lyrid meteor shower peaks this weekend

Earth has entered a stream of debris from ancient Comet Thatcher which passes Earth once every 415 years and is the source of the annual Lyrid meteor shower. The peak of this year’s meteor shower will occur late Sunday night (April 21) and early Monday morning (April 22), but glare from a nearly full moon is probably going to impede the view for most. In a darkened area, viewers can expect to see about 10-20 meteors per hour during the peak according to some NASA forecasters. The Lyrids – named because they appear to originate from the constellation Lyra – have been observed in mid-April for at least 2500 years according to NASA scientists. Skies will likely cooperate late Sunday night/early Monday for viewing the meteor shower in the Mid-Atlantic region, but it’ll be quite chilly for this time of year.

Update on the NASA Wallops Island Rocket Launch

The rocket launch that was scrubbed yesterday at Wallops Island, Virginia will be launched no earlier than early Friday evening. The launch on Wednesday was not scrubbed because of weather issues, but rather due to the premature separation of a launch pad connection to the rocket’s upper stage. I believe the weather late tomorrow will likely not allow for a successful launch as a strong cold front will be approaching the east coast so we may have to wait to hear for an update from NASA about possible launch windows beyond Friday if indeed tomorrow doesn’t work out. The rocket that is set to launch is an Orbital Sciences’ Antares rocket that is 133 feet tall. This is to be the first launch of the Antares rocket, the first orbital launch of a liquid-fueled rocket from Wallops Island, and the largest ever launched there. According to an executive with the company “it is going to be the biggest and loudest and brightest thing that’s ever been launched from Wallops!” The rocket should be visible up and down the east coast for about 90 seconds after liftoff if skies are clear and you can find a clear view of the horizon. When the launch does occur, look about 10 degrees above the horizon in the southeast sky if in the DC metro region, and in the southern sky if in Philly or New York City. This rocket is being launched as part of a test mission with the goal of transporting cargo to the International Space Station. Real-time launch updates are available on the Wallops Island Facebook page at: