In late April, skywatchers within the Northern Hemisphere will get a view of the Lyrid meteor bathe, the dusty path of a comet with a centuries-long orbit across the solar. The Lyrid meteors streak throughout the sky between April 16 and April 30, so skywatchers have an opportunity to see them throughout that window, climate allowing.
The height of the Lyrid meteor bathe shall be in a single day on April 21-22, NASA meteor professional Invoice Cooke advised House.com. As with most meteor showers, the height viewing time shall be earlier than daybreak, however the Lyrids will turn out to be seen starting at about 10:30 p.m. native time.
The waxing gibbous moon shall be about 68% illuminated throughout the Lyrids’ peak, so moonlight could intervene with observations; the moon shall be full on April 26. “Rise up early earlier than daybreak, after the moon has set. You might have a reasonably good probability of seeing some Lyrids this 12 months,” Cooke mentioned.
The typical Lyrid bathe produces 15 to twenty meteors per hour, and this 12 months skywatchers can count on to see about 18 per hour, relying on how clear and darkish your sky is, Cooke mentioned.
Some years, the Lyrid meteor bathe intensifies and might produce as much as 100 meteors per hour in what’s known as an “outburst,” however it’s tough to foretell precisely when that can occur.
“Folks say there may be some periodicity there,” Cooke mentioned, “however the knowledge would not help that.” Though there may be a mean of 30 years between these outbursts, that is solely a mean; the precise variety of years between the occasions varies, Cooke mentioned.
The place to look
The radiant — the purpose from which the meteors seem to originate — shall be excessive within the night sky within the constellation Lyra to the northeast of Vega, one of many brightest stars seen within the night time sky this time of 12 months. Do not look straight towards the radiant, although, since you may miss the meteors with the longest tails.
The Lyrid meteor bathe is of medium brightness, however not as luminous because the well-known Perseid meteor bathe in August, which tends to supply extra distinguished trails, Cooke mentioned.
What causes the Lyrids?
Lyrid meteors are little items of Comet Thatcher, a long-period comet that orbits the solar about as soon as each 415 years. Items of particles left within the comet’s wake, nonetheless, make an look yearly. (Comet Thatcher’s most up-to-date perihelion, or closest method to the solar, was in 1861. It will not be again till the 12 months 2276.)
Meteor showers happen when the Earth crosses the trail of a comet, colliding with a path of comet crumbs. That is why they occur across the identical time yearly and seem to originate from particular factors within the sky. As they fritter away in Earth’s environment, the meteors go away vivid streaks within the sky generally known as “taking pictures stars.”
Lyrid meteors are available in quick — although not as quick because the Leonids, which peak in November, Cooke mentioned. “The Leonids hit us head-on,” he mentioned. “The Lyrids are extra like hitting the left entrance fender.”
The Lyrids are one of many oldest recorded showers, Cooke mentioned, with observations going again to 687 B.C. You do not want any sort of particular gear to see the meteors; simply search for on the darkish sky, be affected person and benefit from the present.
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