Clouds over the Midcoast may clear in time to view the annual Lyrid meteor shower, which takes place as Earth passes through the tail of comet Thatcher between April 16 and 26.

Thatcher — or comet C/1861 G1 — was discovered by A.E. Thatcher in 1861, and possesses an orbit of 415 years.

According to Alan Davenport — director of the Maynard F. Jordan planetarium in Orono and show producer, astronomy educator, and coordinator of the Jordan Observatory — the Lyrids are so named because they seem to emanate from the part of the sky that holds the constellation Lyra, or the Harp.

Though the shower's peak falls at 8 a.m. on Monday, April 22, Davenport said the waxing moon will make it difficult to see many of the Lyrids until after moonset, at approximately 3 a.m.

Davenport said some of the brightest, fastest-moving meteors will be visible from 1 a.m. to 3 a.m., and may still appear “a couple of times an hour” despite bright moonlight.

“Perhaps the best viewing will be after moonset, between 3 a.m. and 5 a.m.," Davenport said, adding it would be "very hard to judge" the number of meteors that might be visible.

Davenport said meteor showers are not well-defined points in time, and may possess vague or multiple peaks, so meteors may also be visible the nights leading up to and following the April 21-22 peak.

According to meteorologist Ken McKinley's April 16 LOcal foCUS forecast, cloudy skies are likely the nights of Friday, April 19, and Saturday, April 20, but Sunday, April 20 should be mostly clear, with temperatures in the lower 30s.

Davenport recommended stargazers use reclining lawn chairs and sleeping bags for optimum viewing conditions.

Camden Herald reporter Bane Okholm can be reached at 236-8511 ext. 304 or by email at