April 21st, 2012
06:07 PM ET

Your guide to the Lyrid meteor shower

Tonight and tomorrow night, look up at the sky for a spectacular light show.

The Lyrid Meteor Showers happen annually, but this year’s "moonless" night and lack of cloud cover for the western two-thirds of the United States will make for better views.

The moon is in its new phase - meaning the side facing Earth isn't lit up by the sun, NASA's meteor shower expert Bill Cooke told Space.com. Last year, the moonlight made it harder to see the Lyrid show.

"The Lyrids are really unpredictable," Cooke told Space.com. "I'm expecting 15 to 20 Lyrid meteors an hour. Back in 1982, they outburst to nearly 100 per hour. You really can't predict with this."

Space.com reports that the Lyrid shower - which takes place as the Earth passes through dust from comet Thatcher - has been watched by humans for more than 2,600 years.

The meteor shower's name comes from the constellation Lyra.

The best times to watch are after midnight and just before dawn. Look to the northeast and pick a viewpoint well away from city lights. The darker the sky, the brighter the meteors will appear.

NASA recommends watching with the naked eye instead of through a telescope or binoculars.

You can also join NASA's live chat tonight with Cooke and other experts.

Enjoy the show!

Bonnie Schneider is a meteorologist for CNN and HLN. Her book Extreme Weather is on sale wherever books are sold, and through her website: BonnieWeather.com.

May 1st, 2010
01:56 PM ET

'High risk' of severe storms today

There is a “high risk” today of severe storms according to the Storm Prediction Center for these areas:   

- Southeastern Missouri
- South and eastern Arkansas
- Western Tennessee
- Northern Louisiana
- Northeastern Mississippi

A “high risk” forecast means there is a 30 percent chance of a tornado forming within a 25 mile radius of the highlighted area.

It also means that some of the tornadoes potentially could be EF2 or stronger (they could contain winds measuring more than 110 mph).

"High risk" days are rare and typically only issued a few times a year.


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Filed under: U.S. • Weather